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Radiation Test Results for 2006 show Local Seafood is safe 18 July 2007

The Department of Local Government and the Environment has published the latest results of the ongoing radiation monitoring by the Government Laboratory. The annual report for 2006, details the results of tests on locally-produced foods such as seafood, milk and meat products. The results are reassuring as no hazardous level of radioactivity was found in any of the foods examined.

Traces of radioactive contamination from Sellafield are still detectable in seafood but are no cause for concern. Manx consumers who eat appreciable quantities of local seafood are unlikely to receive more than 2% of the acceptable radiation exposure limit for the general public.

A trace of Technetium-99 persisting in locally-caught lobsters is likely to be partly due to remobilisation of Tc-99 trapped on seabed sediments closer to Sellafield. Sellafield is now using better effluent treatment technology which has substantially reduced the present day discharges of Technetium-99 into the Irish Sea. Levels of Tc-99 are expected to drop further, but this decline could be slow, due to the disturbance (by natural processes such as storms) of radioactivity already deposited on the seabed.

The monitoring work carried out by the Government Laboratory also extends to the general environment. During 2006, the background radiation levels were measured in harbour basins and on beaches, and were found to be consistently low. Although Technetium-99 is also found at low concentrations in seaweed collected from the shoreline, it does not constitute a hazard to people using the Island’s beaches for recreation.

Environment Minister, John Shimmin, MHK, commenting on publication of the latest report said,

“Whilst I am pleased that all Manx-produced food has proved to be 100% safe and of the highest quality, it is still the case that our Government remains totally opposed to the operations at Sellafield. I accept that there is no present health risk from Sellafield. However, our Government’s policy is to seek the closure of Sellafield to ensure the protection of the Irish Sea environment.
The THORP reprocessing plant, in particular, has been a major cause of concern and I believe the majority of people in the Isle of Man wish it to be closed down. However, until we can achieve our ultimate objective of seeing all of Sellafield’s operations closed down, we must continue to press for radioactive discharges to be reduced and to be as close to zero as possible. In fact I know the UK Government has already given its commitment at international level, at the OSPAR Commission, to achieving close to zero discharges by 2020. I believe Sellafield should do everything possible to achieve that objective.”

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