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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 June, 2003, 11:47 GMT 12:47 UK
Anger over fish radiation find
Salmon in box
Traces of radioactive waste were found
The Scottish salmon industry has condemned a study which discovered traces of radioactive waste in farmed fish.

The Greenpeace research found traces of the radioactive waste in salmon on sale in major supermarkets and has blamed this on emissions from the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant in Cumbria.

Westminister Environment Minister Elliot Morley announced that his department would write to nuclear operator BNFL for a nine-month moratorium on emissions of low level Technetium-99 .

The tests were conducted by the Greenpeace research laboratory at Exeter University.

We don't have an issue with the salmon industry
Greenpeace scientist

Dr David Santillo
Greenpeace scientist

Low levels of Technetium-99 were found in fresh and smoked salmon bought from store chains Sainsbury's, Tesco, Asda, Safeway, Waitrose, and Marks and Spencer.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) said the findings were well below permitted levels and stressed that the public should not be alarmed.

However, the industry body, Scottish Quality Salmon, has accused Greenpeace of being alarmist.

Chief executive Brian Simpson said: "We're outraged that Greenpeace decided to publicise an issue using Scottish salmon as the base for their argument.

Salmon on table
The FSA said there is no health risk

"I would say they are unnecessarily trying to create a food scare.

"If you take the Greenpeace figures, and we've still to scrutinise them, we would need to have a consumer eating as much as 62 kilos a year.

"That's a large salmon steak every day of the year and, according to the Food Standards Agency, even then we would only have absolutely minimal impact on the amount of radioactivity in our general diet."

Dr David Santillo, a senior Greenpeace scientist at Exeter University, said: "We don't have an issue with the salmon industry, we're not trying to attack them any more than we're trying to attack the supermarkets.

"Rather we feel we should all be working in the same direction.

"What we've done here is a piece of investigative research to expand the knowledge of the distribution of radio isotopes that are coming from the Sellafield reprocessing plant.

'New research'

"We didn't really expect to find it but now we have a duty to report those results."

Dr Santillo said traces had already been found in other seafood including lobsters and researchers decided to look at salmon because it had not previously been considered.

He told BBC News Online that the issue was not one of food safety but of "contamination of a pristine environment".

Announcing the proposed ban, Mr Morley said he believed a nine-month period was not an "unreasonable" length of time while new procedures for waste disposal were put in place.

He said: "We have written to BNFL to ask them if they will put a moratorium on Technetium-99 emissions, pending this new research and putting the new procedures in place."

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23 Jun 03  |  Cumbria
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Fish farming policy unveiled
24 Mar 03  |  Scotland
IVF plan hatched to save salmon
08 Mar 02  |  Scotland

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