RADIOACTIVE material found in a garden shed at a property in Tadley on Sunday night has been identified.

A canister displaying a radioactive sign was found in the garden shed by the occupants of a property in Giles Road on Sunday night. It is believed that the occupants were demolishing the shed at the time.

The canister was then taken away by the Atomic Weapons Establishment later that evening.

The Environment Agency has now confirmed that the material found was low hazard Caesium-137 which poses no threat to local residents or the environment.

Caesium-137 is a radioactive isotope of Caesium, which is a common product of fission (a split) between Uranium-235 and other isotopes in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons, and it has a half life of around 30 years.

It is commonly used in the calibration of radiation detection instruments, such as gauges that detect the flow of liquids in pipes, in other devices to measure thickness of paper and photographic film and is used in radiation treatment of some cancers.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “On Sunday evening we were alerted by Hampshire police to radioactive material found in a shed in Tadley, Hampshire.

“We worked with partners to respond to the incident, and it was identified as a low hazard Caesium 137 radioactive source.”

He added: “This has not caused any contamination and does not pose a risk to human health or the environment. It has now been removed from the area for safe storage. We are working with partners to assess the correct disposal route for this source.”

An AWE spokesperson added: “Radioactive monitoring results of the site and the recovered container confirm low level radioactive readings that pose no threat to members of the public. We are continuing to work with the Environment Agency to determine the optimum disposal route.”

Two fire crews from the Basingstoke fire station, a crew from Redbridge, in Southampton, and a crew from Tadley and Alton were dispatched to the scene in Giles Road at 8.36pm on Sunday following the discovery of the canister.

In addition, three specialist Hampshire Fire and Rescue units were sent to the scene, including an environmental protection unit from Alton and a detection, identification and monitoring unit from Winchester.

A hazardous area response team and two ambulances from the South Central Ambulance Service were also on hand to assess three people as a precautionary measure.

As a precautionary measure, a 45 metre cordon was set up and 16 properties were evacuated whilst crews from the specialist units investigated the suspected radioactive material.