Date Published: 11 March 2009

Dounreay restrictions to stay in place

Health Food - illustrating an item from the UK Food Standards Agency.

Restrictions on seafood coming from an area near Dounreay nuclear site will remain in place, following a Food Standards Agency review.

The Agency examined the existing restrictions on seafood from near Dounreay in light of new data and current work to remove radioactive particles from the seabed.

It concluded that the restricted area should remain in place while the work on the seabed is going on and be reviewed once it is complete. The review also concluded that with the restrictions in place, the risk to food safety remains extremely small.


In October 1997, following the discovery of fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel on the seabed (‘hot particles’), the then Scottish Office placed an order under the Food and Environment Protection Act (FEPA) 1985 prohibiting the removal of seafoods from a two kilometre zone centred on the end of the Dounreay liquid discharge pipeline. The purpose of the order is to protect the public by ensuring that fish and shellfish that may have been contaminated by particles of irradiated nuclear fuel do not enter the food chain.

Responsibility for the Dounreay restricted area passed to the FSA on its formation in April 2000. In 2003, a risk assessment by the Agency on particles found outside the FEPA area indicated there was no justification for extending it.

In November 2006, the Dounreay Particles Advisory Group published its third report. Based on this, the FSA undertook a risk assessment on particles within the FEPA area. The final report was peer reviewed by the Health Protection Agency and incorporated comments received from the Dounreay Particles Edinburgh Group, a Scottish Government - chaired committee of Dounreay stakeholders.

Until 2008, particles were recovered from the seabed by divers. In August 2008, following a Best Practicable Environmental Option consultation by Dounreay Site Restoration Limited and extensive trials, seabed particle detection and recovery using remotely-operated vehicles began.


Source: Food Standards Agency (FSA), UK.

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