‘Significant’ radioactive particle found on beach near Dounreay

23 February 2012

Dounreay clean-up contractor DSRL has informed the Scottish Environment Protection Agency that additional tests are 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 Sandsidebeach, around 3km West of the Dounreay site on 14 February. Checks carried out on the beach indicated the particle had higher than normal beta dose rate.

Further, initial laboratory analysis carried out at Dounreay showed: low caesium-137 content, the presence of niobium-94 and a 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, DRSL said in a statement. If confirmed by further analysis, this would be the first ‘significant’ find at the Sandside beach.

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 tests are now being carried out.

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