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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 July 2006, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Nuclear plant gets local feedback
Particles have been found in the marine environment around Dounreay
Visitors to a beach near the Dounreay nuclear plant asked to be "scanned" for radioactivity, according to answers to a consultation on the Caithness site.

The claim about Dunnet beach is contained in comments gathered for an independent report about radioactive particles around Dounreay.

Traditional picnics have also vanished from Sandside beach where dozens of particles have been found.

Some of the 400 people consulted believed the risk they posed was low.

UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) is decommissioning the Dounreay site and monitoring for particles.

Rogue discharge

The independent report sought the views of people living around Dounreay nuclear plant about radioactive particles in the marine environment.

Residents raised concerns about health and safety, a lack of clear information about the particles and impact on tourism.

However, some respondents said they thought sewage and litter was a greater danger to health than the particles.

The pollution is believed to date back to a rogue discharge in the 1960s from Dounreay of hundreds of thousands of grain-sized particles of reprocessed reactor fuel.

To date more than 1,000 hot spots have been recovered.

UKAEA is decommissioning the site on the Caithness coast

The new report, released by UKAEA on Wednesday, summarises the feedback from more than 400 people ahead of formal consultation later this year on options for dealing with the particles.

A series of group sessions were held in the local area with residents, clubs and organisations.

Comments from Dunnet Community Group included one explaining that locals were not "bothered" when a particle was found on Dunnet beach in March 2005.

However, the person making the comment added that there had been "instances of non-locals wanting to be scanned when leaving the beach".

A session, called Environment Interest Group, said the beach has not been cleaned since the find leaving it strewn with rubbish.

School pupils

And at another separate meeting, it was said Sandside had been the scene of school and Sunday school picnics during the 1980s but the beach was now avoided by 50% of people in Caithness.

Reay and Melvich Community Group said the finds were having a negative impact on tourism.

Meanwhile, nine pupils who took part in the school session said the nuclear industry had acted "irresponsibly" and the release of particles should not have happened in the first place.

Daren Luscombe, of Entec UK Ltd who organised the consultation, said the survey showed people wanted better and reliable information.

Phil Cartwright, UKAEA's particles and land contamination manager, said: "The feedback has been very constructive and new options and criteria have been identified."

Landowner criticises beach report
15 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Risk of Dounreay particles 'low'
14 Mar 06 |  Scotland
Dounreay particle plans outlined
08 Jan 06 |  Scotland
'Nuclear particle' find on beach
26 Mar 05 |  Scotland

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