Isle of Man News - POSTED Thu 23-09-2010

Radioactive contamination at an all time low but Government still wants plant shut down

by Tessa Hawley

Radioactive contamination at an all time low but Government still wants plant shut down

RADIOACTIVE discharges from Sellafield into the Irish Sea are at a historic low according to a new report published by the Government Laboratory.


Despite this the Manx Government are still calling for the plant to be shut down.


According to the annual "Radioactivity Monitoring on the Isle of Man Report" tests on local seafood during 2009 found only traces of radioactivity originating from Sellafield.

The concentrations detected were too low to be of any health concern - even for consumers who eat a high quantity of local seafood. 


Despite this the Environment Minister, John Shimmin MHK, is still calling for the plant to be shut down. He said: "The Isle of Man Government wants Sellafield closed down but I know that can’t be achieved in the short term.


"Whilst I accept the fact that there is no present day health risk from Sellafield it is quite obvious from the monitoring that discharges from across the water have the very real ability to contaminate our environment here on the Isle of Man.


"I am acutely aware that releases of radioactive material from Sellafield have the potential to have a detrimental effect on our fishing industry and economy, or even directly upon human health, and I stress that we are in no way content with the present situation which permits radioactive waste to go into the Irish Sea."


The impact of Sellafield in the Isle of Man has continually declined partly due to the prolonged shutdown of THORP -Sellafield’s largest nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. It was closed from 2005 to 2007 and has only carried out limited operation since its restart.


Mr Shimmin continued: "The UK Government has given a commitment to cut Sellafield’s discharges to near zero by the year 2020. I believe Sellafield should do everything possible to achieve that objective.


"There are other potential developments at Sellafield such as the proposed underground repository for nuclear waste which the Isle of Man Government views as being potentially detrimental to our interests.


"Earlier this year Tynwald updated its nuclear issues policy to include opposition to underground disposal of nuclear waste in West Cumbria. We are certainly against it until and unless Tynwald is convinced it is safe."


The monitoring work carried out by the Government Laboratory also includes a check on background radiation levels in harbour basins and on beaches. These were all consistently low. 


The full report can be seen here.

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