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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 September, 2003, 13:32 GMT 14:32 UK
Dounreay rabbits get all-clear
Rabbit
Rabbits had burrowed into radioactive waste pits
Dounreay's rabbit population has been ruled free from radioactivity following tests by the Food Standards Agency Scotland (FSAS).

A probe was carried out after the bunnies were found to have burrowed into low-level waste pits at the nuclear plant in Caithness.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) had served an enforcement notice on Dounreay managers ordering them to stop the rabbits gaining access.

There was concern that the rabbits could be contaminated with radioactivity and people who trapped and ate them locally would be in danger.

But after taking samples from 10 rabbits, FSAS experts have confirmed they do not contain nuclear waste from the pits.

Traces of plutonium, uranium and americium were found in the bunnies but they were said to be from permitted Dounreay discharges, nuclear weapon tests, and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Russia.

Fences repaired

An FSAS spokesman said: "The survey showed no evidence that wild rabbits from close to Dounreay contain radioactive material from the solid low level waste pits at the nuclear establishment.

"The analysis shows that people who eat rabbits caught near Dounreay will receive very low doses of radioactivity which are within nationally and internationally recognised limits.

"There is no need for people to avoid eating rabbits from the area."

Plant operator UKAEA said it has complied with the order to prevent wildlife getting into its waste pits by repairing holes in fences and gates.

The UKAEA is also believed to have hired Rentokil to target the thriving population of rabbits which can often be seen scampering about open ground within the Caithness plant.


SEE ALSO:
Environment watchdog criticised
31 Jul 03  |  Scotland
Tests on suspect atomic rabbits
27 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Rabbits burrow into Dounreay
23 Jun 03  |  Scotland
Dounreay clean-up facility planned
29 Apr 03  |  Scotland
Timeline: Dounreay's troubles
13 Nov 02  |  Scotland


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