Food Law News - UK - 2010

FSA News Item, 24 June 2010

RADIOACTIVITY - Last Chernobyl sheep monitoring restrictions lifted in Scotland

The Food Standards Agency has released the last Scottish sheep farm affected by the 1986 Chernobyl accident from monitoring requirements imposed under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985.

In 1986, an accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the former USSR (now Ukraine) released large quantities of radioactivity into the atmosphere. Some of this radioactivity (primarily radiocaesium) was deposited on upland areas of the UK where sheep are farmed. To protect consumers, statutory restrictions under the Food and Environment Protection Act 1985 were placed on the movement, sale and supply of sheep from the affected areas.

During 1987, raised levels of radioactivity were detected in new lambs leading to new restrictions being placed on sheep farms across the UK including, 73 areas in central and south-west Scotland. A monitoring technique was developed that enabled live sheep to be monitored and only moved from the restricted areas if radioactivity levels were acceptable.

Since the early 1990s an annual post-Chernobyl sheep monitoring programme has been carried out on restricted areas in Scotland. Over time, radioactivity levels have continued to decline, and, as of February 2010, only two areas in Scotland remained under restrictions.

Of these, one area has been taken out of agricultural use, so is no longer being used to farm sheep, and the other area was removed from restrictions on 21 June 2010.

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