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Last Updated: Thursday, 22 May, 2003, 12:24 GMT 13:24 UK
Chernobyl still haunts hill farms
Chernobyl nuclear power plant
Chernobyl: More than 400 British farms remain affected
The Chernobyl nuclear disaster shook the world in 1986 - and hundreds of Welsh farmers continue to feel the tremors 17 years on.

In response to a Parliamentary question by Blaenau Gwent MP Llew Smith, Welsh Secretary Peter Hain said this week that 180,000 sheep in Wales remained affected by radioactive fall-out and were under restricted movement.

A total of 359 - 100 more than 1998 - holdings fall within the current monitored areas, mainly mountain grazings.

The news coincides with Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma - currently hosting pan-European talks - appealing for help to continue the recovery after Chernobyl.

As the three-day talks continue, back in Westminster Llew Smith stressed the need to reconsider any idea of building more nuclear plants in the UK.

Keeping ramifications of the Chernobyl disaster in the spotlight on a European scale is important to the future of our community.
Snowdonia farmer Glyn Roberts
"The very fact that 17 years after the accident in the Ukraine, radioactive contamination can still contaminate farms some 2,000 miles away, demonstrates the deadly dangers of nuclear power," he said.

Back in March, the BBC revealed that almost 400 sheep farms in England, Wales and Scotland remained affected.

Among them is 47-year-old Snowdonia sheep farmer Glyn Roberts.

Breeding stock on a farm in Padog, near Betws y Coed, he must still abide by government-imposed restrictions on the movement and sale of sheep whose meat contains more than permitted levels of radioactivity.

"The process of marking and scanning the sheep for signs of the lingering radioactivity is a lot of hassle for everyone involved," he said.

"Financial losses continue to blight us in real terms too."

But he says he is glad the safety measures are still in place, not only for his piece of mind but to demonstrate to the public that they are protected from contamination.

Farmer Glyn Roberts
Farmer Glyn Roberts is eager to restore consumer confidence

"These stringent rules certainly raise consumer confidence in Welsh farming produce.

"We're therefore happy to monitor our stock. Keeping ramifications of the Chernobyl disaster in the spotlight on a European scale is important to the future of our community."

Steps being taken to highlight possible dangers and prospects of future environmental development, will be among debate at the Environmental Security for Durable Development in Ukraine.

Among delegates are 50 environment ministers from Europe, North America and former Soviet republics, as well as non-governmental organisations like the World Bank.

Crucially, participants are set to sign a protocol obliging businesses to inform the public of their toxic emissions, and will decide on a common environmental strategy and compensations practice in the case of accidents.

But President Kuchma is also due to discuss how to secure funding to complete the controversial construction of two new nuclear reactors when he meets the World Bank officials.

And environmental groups are opposed to his plans, warning of a disaster worse than the explosion in 1986.

Farms tested for Chernobyl fallout
04 Mar 03  |  England
UK farms still radioactive
03 Mar 03  |  UK
Chernobyl radiation makes wheat mutate
04 Oct 00  |  Science/Nature

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