Chernobyl Radiation Still Contaminating UK Sheep

The U.K. Food Standards Agency recently published three 2008 monitoring reports about sheep on farms across England, Scotland and Wales that remain under post-Chernobyl restrictions. According to these new reports, none of the affected farms were considered suitable to have their restrictions lifted.

As a result of the 1986 accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, large quantities of radioactivity was released into the atmosphere. Some of this radioactive contamination fell on upland areas of the United Kingdom where sheep are farmed.

To protect consumers, restrictions were placed upon the movement and sale of sheep from U.K. areas where contamination levels in sheep meat is over 1,000 Becquerels per kilogram (the safety limit set in 1986). Live sheep are currently monitored using hand-held radiation monitors that provide a count rate relating to radioactive contamination.

In 1986, almost 9,000 farms fell under these restrictions. Today, only 369 farms are still under restriction, 95% of which are located in northern Wales.

The Food Standards Agency will continue to survey the sheep to ensure that farms can be released from their restrictions as soon as possible, once the contamination levels in the sheep fall within safety limits.

Image: Welsh Sheep - Photo: Ian Wilson

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