A BOMB disposal unit was called in after a military shell was uncovered at a recycling site in Dorchester.

Workers at Dorchester Household Recycling Centre called police after discovering the device in a metal skip. A resident had dropped the device into the container for recycling.

Army experts from Tidworth in Wiltshire were alerted and the centre was closed down for three hours this until the device was declared safe. It turned out to be a 13lb practice shell dating from the Second World War.

Safer Neighbourhood Team officers from Dorchester were at the scene and St George's Road was closed.

A Dorset Police spokesman said: “Police were called at 2.10pm to reports of a possible unexploded device at a recycling centre in Dorchester.

“We would like to reassure the public that the situation is secure and under control.

“Bomb disposal experts are now attending the area to remove the device.”

A passer-by outside the recycling centre, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “I’ve seen police here and that’s all I know so far.

“I don’t think this device was a large one because the nearby businesses haven’t been evacuated.”

The police spokesman said an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team declared the item safe at 5pm and the centre was reopened.

Speaking at the scene, a spokesman for the Royal Logistics Corps EOD unit said: “The article was found in a metal scrap bin at the centre.

“Someone had been to the rubbish tip to put in the bin. The article was a 13 pound practice shell.”

Practice shells were used by aircraft to test their dropping capabilities during the Second World War.

The spokesman issued a warning to members of the public about recycling items they were not sure about.

He added: “If people are not sure about particular articles or items, call the police and they will take it from there.

“We get called to a lot of these types of incidents, especially at recycling plants.

“The practice shell will be taken away and melted; it will then be recycled.”

A Dorset Waste Partnership spokesman said: "We closed Dorchester household recycling centre as a precaution while police and bomb disposal experts investigated a possible unexploded device in one of the site containers.

"The device has been deemed safe and has been removed. The site reopened to the public shortly after 5pm."