Radioactive material found on Suffolk beaches still a mystery at present


Aldeburgh - Credit:

Traces of radioactive material have been found on a second Suffolk beach by scientists monitoring the area around Sizewell.

Two months ago Environment Agency officials revealed that a small amount of an particularly dangerous 'unusual' radioactive isotope had been found at Aldeburgh, and now they have disclosed that very small traces of a different element has also been found at Southwold.

In both cases officials have stressed that the discoveries were very small amounts and there are no safety or environmental concerns and no risk to members of the public.

Stuart Parr, from the Environment Agency, told the Sizewell Stakeholder Group (SSG), that Caesium – a metal used in medical applications, industrial gauges, and hydrology which is said to be mildly toxic – had been found at Southwold.

He said: 'It was a very small amount and could be to do with tide patterns.'

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Investigations were taking place to find out the source though Caesium was not an unusual element to find.

Mr Parr said operators of Sizewell A were carrying out an investigation into the Strontium-90, produced by nuclear fission, found at Aldeburgh beach, one of five beaches monitored in the area. This includes extra monitoring along the resort's shoreline.

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He said: 'We are continuing to engage with the operator in this investigation.

'The extra sampling proposed is continuing as are the investigations outlined to the SSG last time.

'The results from the analysis of these additional samples are not yet available. It can take many weeks for Sr-90 to be analysed due to the complexity of the analytical technique, which needs to be done in a laboratory.

'A sample taken from Aldeburgh beach earlier in 2016 has been sent to two laboratories for comparison.

'Differences in working practices in different laboratories can cause subtle differences in analytical results which become important when working with such low concentrations of Sr-90 in these samples.

'Once all the data has been received and analysed a full report will be made by Sizewell A.

'It is important to note that these results are unusual, the levels of radioactivity detected are extremely low and do not represent a hazard to anyone using the beach.'

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