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UKAEA Responds To Inaccurate And Misleading Report On Particles

3rd September 2006

A number of inaccurate and misleading statements about radioactive particles in the marine environment around Dounreay have been published today in an article in the Daily Telegraph.

UKAEA believes it is important the public has access to accurate and balanced information about particles and the risk they pose, so that people can make informed judgements about the use of beaches etc.

Information about radioactive particles can be found at:

UKAEA today is writing to the Daily Telegraph to seek clarification of the following errors contained in its report:

Nobody knew about the contamination of Sandside Beach when Sandside
Estate was bought by Mr Minter in 1990.

FACT: The discovery of radioactive contamination at Sandside in 1984 was
recorded in at least 17 different newspaper reports at the time. The
particle find was reported in official bulletins published by the
Scottish Office from 1984 onwards.

In 1997, Mr Minter was informed that the beach had been fenced off
after routine monitoring uncovered a radioactive particle

FACT: The beach has remained opened to the public since the first
particle find in 1984 and no attempt to restrict access, including
the erection of fences, has been made by UKAEA.

Serious accidents were covered up by the Official Secrets Act

FACT: Any incident at Dounreay has been reported to regulators or
Ministers as required under our statutory obligations and there has
been no cover-up under the Official Secrets Act.

Pieces of plutonium fuel rods found on beach

FACT: The particles are fragments of irradiated uranium fuel rods known
to have originated in the reprocessing works at Dounreay.

A judicial review in 2003 found that the plant had failed in its duty of care by contaminating the landscape. Dounreay then began regular monitoring.

FACT: Sandside Beach has monitored since the start of operations at
Dounreay in the 1950s, since it was recognised as a possible
destination for pollution from the site. Routine monitoring of
Sandside for particles commenced in 1984.

FACT: The Court of Session rejected a demand for additional monitoring
of the beach by UKAEA and left it to SEPA to determine the level of
monitoring required.

UKAEA was fined 2 million last month over a radioactive spillage

FACT: The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority decided to withhold 2
million in commercial fee payable to UKAEA under its contract with
NDA for delivery of the site decommissioning prohramme.

Herbie Lyall was an inspector at the plant

FACT: Mr Lyall was not an inspector at the plant. He was employed by
UKAEA to carry out radiation surveys, as were many others.

Some of the plutonium particles have a half-life of 300 years

FACT: The particles found on beaches are detected by their caesium-137
content, which has a half-life of 30 years.

Scottish Environment Protection Agency signs warn visitors to Sandside of the dangers of radiation

FACT: Sandside Estate decided to erect its own signs at Sandside Beach
after considering the wording agreed for public information signage
provided by SEPA, UKAEA, NHS Highland and Highland Council.


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