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Warning Signs Removed From Sandside Beach As Perceived Particles Threat Lessened

7th December 2006

The third report of the Dounreay Particles Advisory Group states that the possibility of coming into direct contact with a particle at Sandside is extremely small and would not cause any discernable health effect.

As a result existing signs, which were erected by the estate, were removed at the weekend by the estate of its own choice. Following this Sandside Estate invited UKAEA to enter preliminary discussions about new signs to provide current information to the public. These initial discussions have now taken place.

Sandside Estate offered to discuss in conjunction with UKAEA the need, wording and positioning of future signage at Sandside with the Highland Council, SEPA and Highland Health Board subject to a speedy decision.

Phil Cartwright, Land Remediation and Particles Project Manager said "We are pleased to work with the owners of Sandside Estate and will also involve the key agencies to arrive at suitable wording for new signage which provides current information on this issue to the public"

Mr Minter owner of Sandside Estate said today "We do still have damage occurring to our land but that is not part of the public health issue which is what our old signs were to protect. I believe we have handled the signage responsibly especially given our duty of care. Our signs were erected on legal advice and worded on expert advice - they were temporary and precautionary until an official opinion was (belatedly) declared. When
at last the risk of harm from the particles of the radioactivity detected at Sandside so far, was officially declared minimal by DPAG, the placement of our signs became unnecessary so I ordered them to be removed straightaway. Regard must be had for the wording used by the key agencies at Dunnet Bay where only one very minor particle has been found".

Particles were generated during the dismantling and preparation for reprocessing at Dounreay of spent nuclear fuel. There is evidence of some of these particles entering the drainage systems at Dounreay and being discharged to sea.

A report was released by DPAG in November 2006 which provides their latest thinking on this issue. See Here

Restrictions on fishing are in place in this area.

UKAEA is carrying out a study to determine if there is a better option to reduce the risk from particles than just the current strategy of monitoring beaches. As part of this, full public consultation on the options is scheduled for early 2007.
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