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Caithness News Bulletins January 2003

January 2003 Caithness.org News 2002

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A number of preliminary options for managing radioactive particles in the offshore sediment near Dounreay will be published next week on the opening day of an exhibition intended to inform and stimulate debate about the issue.

The exhibition, which will be staged in Thurso and Reay, follows an intensive programme of environmental research over the last few years that has involved an additional 37 million of work being let with specialist companies and institutions to research particular aspects of the particles legacy.

As  a  result,  UKAEA  now  has  a much better understanding of the options available to it, and believes it can begin the process of deciding the best long-term strategy for addressing the particles during 2003. UKAEA want s to engage stakeholders fully in making these decisions.

At the exhibitions, members of the public will be able to communicate directly with staff involved in the research, discuss the preliminary options and register their interest in public participation about the best practicable environmental option for managing the particle legacy.

Dr Guy Owen, UKAEA's head of safety and environment at Dounreay, said: "I believe the decision-making process will raise important issues about the environmental impact, the risk to health, the technical feasibility of options, the effect on the community and the costs to the taxpayer.  "It is important our stakeholders are fully informed about these issues and I hope that members of the public who are interested in helping us identify the best practicable environmental option will visit the exhibition, discuss the preliminary options and register to play a part in the consultation process. Their input will be very important to us in choosing a sensible option that can be implemented."

The list of preliminary options will be published on January 8th  in the second issue of Dounreay's Public Participation Newsletter for stakeholders.

The exhibitions will take place on:
Wednesday, January 8th  4pm to 8pm at the Victoria Hall, Reay.
Thursday, January 9th  11am to 3pm and 6pm to 8pm at Thurso Town Hall.=
Friday, January 10th   11am to 3pm at Thurso Town Hall.

Following the exhibitions, a detailed assessment of the options will be presented to stakeholder panels that will consider the importance of each of the attributes that should be used to score the options. The detailed options assessment, the findings of the panel and a technical resume will then be the subject of consultation, leading to the identification of a preferred option in 2004.

Since 1983, some 216 have been retrieved from the enclosed foreshore at Dounreay and 22 from the nearby beach at Sandside.  Since 1997, over 700 have been found on the seabed during the course of diving surveys.
UKAEA maintain that Sandside is the only beach used by the public where particles have been found. The risk to members of the public is considered by independent experts to be low and the risk is reduced further by regular monitoring.  In 1998, the National Radiological Protection Board advised that in the unlikely event of someone swallowing a particle at Sandside emitting 400,000 becquerels of radioactivity, there would be "no directly observable effect" on the person's health.  Most particles found at Sandside have been less than 100,000 becquerels. The most active has been 300,000 becquerels.

  A number of other beaches used by the public near Dounreay are monitored by UKAEA to criteria regulated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. No particles have been found on these beaches except at Sandside.

UKAEA Dounreay is committed to public participation in the Dounreay Site Restoration Plan. More than 800 individuals and organisations in the UK and abroad are now registered as stakeholders for public participation.  It is open to anyone to register an interest as a stakeholder at any time.

The Dounreay Site Restoration Plan was published by UKAEA in October 2000. It can be viewed at www.ukaea.org.uk