The UK government yesterday imposed a temporary ban on fishing around the Dounreay nuclear reprocessing plant on the north coast of Scotland following the discovery of large radioactive particles in marine sand-banks. Occasional radioactive particles have been found in the area for some years, and are thought to be contaminated metal shavings from operations to cut up spent nuclear fuel rods that went on from the 1950s to the early 1970s. The particles are mainly contaminated by caesium-137, according to the plant's operator, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), at levels of between 42,000-11m Becquerels. Following the discovery this summer by UKAEA divers of several of the particles in offshore sand-banks, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency yesterday recommended a ban on the use of fish caught in the area as a precautionary measure. This is the first time that such a restriction has been imposed around a UK nuclear installation.
Scottish Office, tel: +44 131 556 8400; UKAEA, tel: +44 1235 821 111.
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