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expert reaction to detection of radiation at Sellafield

The Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria is partially closed after unusual levels of radioactivity were detected.


Prof Richard Wakeford, Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Manchester, said:

“From the information currently available, it appears that an elevated level of radioactivity has been detected at the north of the site, but that it is at a low level above normal.  Such a level would not pose a risk to health that is more than encountered in everyday life, but until the cause of this increase has been identified (for example, what type of radioactive materials are responsible), the Sellafield management have told non-essential staff not to come into work.  This is a prudent precaution until the cause is known and the situation rectified.”

“There are no operating nuclear reactors at Sellafield, so short-lived radionuclides such as iodine-131 are not present there to any significant extent – therefore no stable iodine tablets should be taken as there is no need.  If long-lived radionuclides, such as caesium-137, are responsible, then it will be important to find out what they are so that their source can be identified.”

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