Norway hits at Sellafield dumping

Click to follow
The Independent Online
British Nuclear Fuels risks international odium again after Norwegian scientists said they had detected a big increase in radioactive discharges off their coast, and traced it 500 miles back to Cumbria.

"We traced it across the North Sea, and around Scotland almost all the way to Sellafield," said Per Strand. He was talking about technetium- 99, a radioactive element only produced as a nuclear by-product.

Dr Strand said technetium levels were not an immediate danger but marine life, including shellfish that humans eat, accumulate the material and could have higher concentrations. "We started this monitoring programme because somewhat raised levels had been reported in the Irish Sea. So we wanted to be on the safe side and see what the situation is in Norwegian areas."

In 1994 Norway and other countries protested when Britain allowed BNFL to increase emissions into the ocean. They feared the material would reach their waters: now they have been proved right.

Last night BNFL said the impact of technetium discharges on someone living near Sellafield who ate a lot of seafood would result in a maximum radiation dose equivalent to that received on an eight-hour plane flight. "Any doses received in Norway ... will be tiny compared to background radiation," said a spokesman.

Although the Norwegian government said it will wait for the full report before deciding whether to renew protests against Britain, this finding will almost certainly renew calls for BNFL to stop dumping radioactivity in the Irish Sea. It has come under pressure for years from Ireland and the Scandinavian countries to stop discharges.