Sellafield's radioactive salmon

Posted by bex — 21 May 2003 at 8:00am - Comments

Radioactive waste from Sellafield has been found in Scottish farmed salmon sold in major British supermarkets. Tests commissioned by Greenpeace revealed traces of radioactive waste in packets of fresh and smoked salmon.

The tests, conducted independently by Southampton University's oceanography centre, found low levels Technetium-99 (Tc-99) in farmed Scottish salmon sold at Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda, Safeway, Waitrose and Marks & Spencer.

Tc-99 is a byproduct of Magnox fuel reprocessing. Dr David Santillo, a scientist at Greenpeace's research laboratories at Exeter University, said: "Tc-99 should not be there at all. It is inexplicable yet significant. Scottish salmon is marketed as something that comes from a pristine environment."

Sellafield, the British Nuclear Fuels-owned reprocessing facility in Cumbria, is responsible for Tc-99 found in lobsters, seaweed and cod off the coast. Tc-99 from the facility has been washed as far as Norway, which has one of the largest salmon industries in the world.

Scotland's west coast salmon farms feed their stock on pellets made from fish caught off Chile or in the North Sea.

All tests showed levels ranging from less than two becquerels (less than the levels of detection) of Tc-99 per kilogramme to more than 20 becquerels of Tc-99 per kilogramme.

The levels found are relatively low and are not an immediate threat to human health but if the government does not act now levels of radioactive pollution in salmon and other foods will increase.

This week, the Government is likely to come under attack over Sellafield's emissions at the OSPAR meeting in Germany. In 1998, the Government promised OSPAR that Sellafield's emissions would be reduced - but since then, the emissions have increased.

The government must shut down Britain's ageing Magnox nuclear reactors now. It is fuel from these plants that cause most of Sellafield' s pollution. We don't need the electricity Magnox reactors produce and we don't want radioactive pollution in our seas and in our food.


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