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DSRL informs SEPA of potentially significant particle find

DSRL informs SEPA of potentially significant particle find

Dounreay clean-up contractor DSRL has informed the Scottish Environment Protection Agency of additional tests being carried out on a particle recovered during routine monitoring of a beach near the redundant nuclear site.

The particle was detected in the water’s edge at Sandside. Checks carried out on the beach indicated the particle had higher than normal beta dose rate.

Initial laboratory analysis carried out at Dounreay showed:

• Low Caesium-137 content
• Niobium-94
• High beta dose rate suspected to be from Strontium-90

Further non-destructive testing indicated the estimated radioactivity of the Sr-90 is 1-2MBq, which is equivalent to a “significant” particle. If confirmed by further analysis, this would be the first “significant” find at Sandside.

DSRL informed SEPA of the initial findings and the need for additional tests to understand the chemistry of the particle and verify its potential hazard.

These are now being carried out.

The beach at Sandside is located approximately 3km west of the redundant nuclear site. DSRL continues to monitor Sandside beach and has instructed its contractor to carry out some additional monitoring following discussion with SEPA.

The particle – detected on February 14 – was the 208th to be recovered from the beach at Sandside.

Work is due to resume in May to clear particles from the seabed near the site. More than 1800 have been recovered so far from the seabed where there is evidence of a "plume" from historic effluent discharges dating back 50 years.

Particles are fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel. More information about particles, their health risks and clean-up can be found in our particles section