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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 06:17 GMT
Call for radioactive seaweed tests
There are fears potatoes could have been contaminated
A council is calling for urgent tests on potatoes grown on Scottish islands amid concerns that they might have been contaminated by radioactive seaweed.

Seaweed is commonly used a fertiliser on the Western Isles.

Fears have grown since radioactive material which is thought to have come from the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria was found in the water around Norway.

Scandinavia shares the same tidal chain with Scotland's west coast islands.

Tidal chain

Fears over the cancer-causing chemical Technetium 99 have also been expressed by farmers on the east coast of Ireland.

The Western Isles Council now wants the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to carry out comprehensive tests to reassure the public.

They are calling for tests as soon as possible on water and on the seaweed that is being used on crops such as potatoes.

Angus Nicholson, chairman of the Western Isles Environmental Services Committee, said: "We are particularly worried about the cumulative affect of contaminated seaweed being used on vegetable plots over many years.

"We want to carry out these tests to put everybody's mind at rest."

Technetium-99 is known to be a by-product of reprocessing nuclear fuel rods and Sellafield is the most likely source of the contamination.

Once in the human body, Technetium-99 accumulates in the thyroid gland and intestinal tract and greatly increases the risk of cancer.

Delay to Sellafield Mox contract
03 Mar 03 |  England
Evacuation after Sellafield leak
09 Dec 02 |  England

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