Sellafield technetium found off Norway

Norwegians detect radioactive isotope released by UK nuclear reprocessing plant

A radioactive isotope released by the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in the UK has been detected off the Norwegian coast, a spokesperson for Norway's national Radiation Protection Authority (Statens Strålevern) told ENDS Daily today. Senior research scientist Per Strand said values of technetium-99 in seawater monitored along a stretch of coastline between the cities of Stavanger and Molde had risen more than tenfold in the past three years to 8 Becquerels per cubic metre. Sellafield began releasing significant quantities of technetium in 1994, when it began operating a new plant treating spent fuel from the UK's "Magnox" nuclear power stations. Much higher technetium levels have been found close to the north-west English coast, where Sellafield is situated, and in the Irish sea, prompting concern in both the UK and Irish governments (ENDS Daily 11 February). Off Norway, increased technetium levels have not yet been detected in seaweed or shellfish, Per Strand told ENDS Daily, but he suggested that this was only a matter of time. "And of course, the technetium will be carried north towards the Barents Sea," he said. "So we are now monitoring seawater of Tromsø on a monthly basis."

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Statens Strålevern, +47 67 16 25 00.

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