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Possible Cut in Radiation Levels 28 October 2004

A new report concerning cancer risks from radioactive materials taken into the human body, has been presented to UK Government health advisers. The report from an advisory Committee, known as CERRIE - the Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters, has concluded that the cancer risk from ingesting minute quantities of radioactive particles is low - but that the actual risk may have been underestimated when existing radiological protection standards were being established. The CERRIE Committee had great difficulty in reaching agreement on how low the risks actually were, but the majority opinion was that existing radiological protection standards had been designed with a built in safety margin, which should still be sufficient to protect public health.

However, due to uncertainties in estimating risks from ingested radioactive particles, the Committee has also recommended that the UK authorities take a precautionary approach when making decisions on allowable levels of radioactive pollution. Their advice could have implications for future radiological protection standards and, similarly, UK Government health advisers could recommend further cuts in authorised radioactive discharges from nuclear sites such as Sellafield.

Commenting on the findings of the CERRIE Report, Environment Minister John Rimington said:

"Isle of Man Government has consistently opposed radioactive discharges from Sellafield. We believe our view has been supported by the fact that there has been a trend of continual revision in risk estimates, usually based upon new research findings which then leads to a tightening on the controls on radioactive discharges.

"Isle of Man Government does not dispute the effectiveness of the standards applied by UK health authorities, however Isle of Man Government remains committed to campaigning for further cuts in radioactive emissions from Sellafield - in advance of any future revisions to radiological protection standards.

"In the light of the findings of this new report, I shall be requesting that the Chief Minister raises this matter with the UK Government, to ask for details of any advice they may receive from their expert advisers and to request that they provide us with assurances that any necessary precautionary measures will be implemented."

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