Until nuclear power sites can be safely decontaminated I am against
nuclear power. And while I'm spouting off, who gave the U.S.
permission to use depleted uranium? Who is trying to prevent that?
Voting Bush out won't do it because it was used in Kosovo.
I don't mean to sound so brusque but I've been spouting off all morning
in letters and the adrenalin hasn't subsided yet.
Scottish Sheep Still Contaminated By Chernobyl
By Rob Edwards
The Sunday Herald - UK
It happened 2500km away and 18 years ago, but it is still contaminating
Scottish sheep with levels of radioactivity considered unsafe to eat.
After the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl in the Ukraine exploded and
radioactivity over most of Europe in April 1986, people were assured by
authorities that its effects would be seen off in a matter of weeks.
But new figures released by the government show just how misguided those
assurances were. Today 14 farms covering 16,300 hectares of southwest
central Scotland are still subject to restrictions on the movement and
slaughter of radioactive sheep.
The concentrations of radioactive caesium-137 from Chernobyl in the
animals' muscles still exceed the safety limit of 1000 becquerels of
radioactivity per kilogram. Farmers have to mark con taminated sheep
indelible paint, and must wait until they fall below the limit before
can have them slaughtered for food.
"It is incredible that a small number of Scottish farms are still under
restriction 18 years on from an accident that occurred hundreds of miles
away," said James Withers, the spokesman for National Farmers' Union
"The initial advice in 1986 was that the effects would be over in a few
weeks. It is obviously extremely frustrating and disappointing for the
Ten of the farms with sheep restrictions are in East Ayrshire, three
Stirling and one is in East Renfrewshire. The farmers have not been
Similar restrictions on the movement and slaughter of sheep still apply
down south. In Wales they cover 359 farms totalling 53,000 hectares in
Snowdonia and the north, while in England they affect nine farms
12,000 hectares in West Cumbria.
The information was given by ministers in response to recent questions
the Commons from anti-nuclear Labour MP for Blaenau Gwent, Llew Smith.
"Chernobyl showed how nuclear accidents are both deadly to those in the
area immediately affected, and have an impact thousands of miles away,"
said. "I strongly believe that all nuclear power should be scrapped.
"It has turned out to be the most costly and certainly the most
means of generating fuel."
Chernobyl was the world's worst nuclear accident. Errors by control room
staff in an old and poorly designed Soviet-era reactor led to a blast
ripped apart the building.
Over several days a massive cloud of radioactivity blew over western
Europe, falling to earth wherever it rained. Caesium-137 and other radio
active isotopes got into the soil and were then taken up and recycled by
grass and plants.
As a result, grazing animals, particularly those in rainy upland areas,
became contaminated. As well as sheep, high levels of caesium-137 were
detected in deer and grouse.
Chernobyl also triggered an epidemic of thyroid cancers among children
Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. According to the World Health Organisation,
the accident released 200 times more radioactivity than the US atomic
which devastated Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
In the months immediately after the accident, more than 2000 farms in
Scotland were subject to sheep restrictions. But by 1991 this had
to 60, and by 2001 to 18.
Farmers affected are compensated under the 1986 Sheep Compensation
The government has paid out £2.8 million to Scottish farmers, including
£330,000 over the past five years.
"Our primary concern is to ensure public safety," said a spokesman for
Scottish Executive. "Monitoring of sheep on affected farms will continue
until radioactive caesium levels comply with internationally agreed
According to environmentalists, there are lessons to be learned from
Chernobyl's legacy. "When nuclear power plants go wrong they tend to go
wrong in a big way," said Duncan McLaren, chief executive of Friends of
"The fact that Scottish farmers today are still feeling the impacts of
accident should be a warning to all those who think that nuclear power
deserves a second chance."
He said two of the countries that have just joined the European Union ñ
Lithuania and Slovakia ñ are still relying on old Soviet-style reactors.
And that the Euratom Treaty which underpins the EU obliges them to
"Instead of asking these countries to increase their capacity in
nuclear power we should be assisting them to shut these plants and move
towards safer, cleaner forms of energy production," McLaren argued.
He added: "In the run-up to the European elections the public should
challenge candidates as to whether they support replacing this outdated
treaty with something that will prevent future Chernobyls."
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