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Caithness News Bulletins January 2003

January 2003 Caithness.org News 2002

Dec 2002

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Dounreay News Index UKAEA Web Site Particles Exhibition Details

The  UK  Atomic  Energy  Authority  today  published  a preliminary list of options  for  managing  the legacy of radioactive particles in the offshore sediment near Dounreay.

The  preliminary options are identified in the latest edition of Dounreay's Public  Participation Newsletter for stakeholders, published on the opening day  of  an  exhibition  in  Caithness  and  Sutherland about the particles legacy.

It  follows  an extensive programme of research over the last five years. A detailed  technical  assessment of the options is now being carried out and this  will  be the subject of consultation to identify the best practicable environmental option for the particles.

Dr  Guy Owen, UKAEA's head of safety and environment at Dounreay, said:
 "To choose the best long-term strategy, the costs and risk associated with each of the options must be balanced against the potential benefits, in terms of removing  particles  from  the  environment  and  reducing  risks to public health.
"Once  we've  completed the detailed assessment of the options and a resume of  all  the  technical research that has been carried out, we will present the  work to stakeholder panels that will be facilitated independently.   The panels  will  go  through  the  assessment and their views canvassed on the options  and  the importance of each of the attributes that will be used to score   the   options.  This  will  lead  into  a  period  of  full  public consultation.

"However the particles got into the marine environment in the past, we have a  responsibility  today  to manage the legacy as part of the environmental restoration  of the Dounreay site. The publication today of the preliminary options  is  the  next step towards engaging fully with stakeholders in the process  so  that  we  can  arrive  at a sensible and balanced decision for dealing with the legacy.

"Whatever  option  is  reached  at  the end of the day, we are committed to continuing  to  monitor  beaches used by the public near Dounreay to reduce what  has been acknowledged by independent experts to date to be a low risk to members of the public."

The  preliminary  options  for  dealing  with particles within the offshore sediments can be summarised as follows:
Particles would be left in the seabed, and the public would be protected as now  through  the  monitoring  of  beaches and the removal of any particles found there to criteria regulated independently.
The  most  contaminated  areas  of  the  seabed  would  be  dredged and the particles would be separated as far as practicable for storage and eventual disposal as radioactive waste.
Divers  would continue to recover particles from the seabed by hand.  During the  course  of  seabed  surveys  over  the  last  five  years, divers have recovered more than 700 particles.
Particles  would be identified and recovered from the seabed by specialised remotely operated vehicles.  Members  of  the  public  who attend the exhibition about particles in Reay today 8 January and  in  Thurso  tomorrow 9 January  and Friday 10 January will be encouraged to register
their interest in public participation in the options.

The Public Participation Newsletter published on 8 January 2003 sets out the preliminary options for particles in the offshore sediment, explains public participation in the decision-making process and invites people to register their interest. It can be viewed at www.ukaea.org.uk