Report by Worcester Polytechnic Institute undergraduate nuclear science students using samples from Radiation Free Lakeland volunteers
Also we amended a typo on the student sampling maps there is a PDF here
Begin forwarded message:From: CMBLNC Info Requests <Inforequests.cmblnc@ environment-agency.gov.uk>
Date: 4 July 2018 at 09:35:10 BST
Enquiry regarding levels of Cesium and Americium found on beaches declared safe.
We respond under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environment Regulations 2004.
Thank you for your enquiry received on 12 June 2018 in which you shared the findings of your report and posed a question about radioactivity in the West Cumbrian coastal area. With regards to your question, you asked why monitoring for radioactivity is not measured and reported weekly.
There are extensive radiological monitoring programmes around West Cumbria and these programmes in their entirety will, on average, provide weekly monitoring. The monitoring programmes are as follows:
· Sellafield Limited’s environmental monitoring programme – required by Environment Agency environmental permit.
· Sellafield Limited’s radioactive particles monitoring programme – required by Environment Agency environmental permit.
· Environment Agency’s independent environmental monitoring programme.
· Food Standards Agency’s independent food monitoring programme.
The results of the Environment Agency’s and Food Standards Agency’s programmes are published annually in a report entitled ‘Radioactivity in Food and the Environment’ (RIFE) available at:
The results of the environmental monitoring programme undertaken by Sellafield Limited are available publically at: https://www.gov.uk/government/ collections/sellafield-ltd- environmental-and-safety- reports.
We only report results annually in the UK as the ‘safety limit’ is an annual dose limit to members of the public of 1mSv/y. We use the results of our monitoring programme to assess the doses to members of the public over the period of one year. The doses received from people undertaking work or leisure activities on West Cumbrian beaches are much less than 1mSv/y and have shown a downward trend with time.
The US safety standard you refer to is for the clean-up of radium contamination in soil for processing sites where there are uranium and thorium mill tailings. It is mainly to protect against radon which is a radioactive decay product of radium-226. Hence, it is not appropriate to use this safety standard for americium-241 or caesium-137.
The Environment Agency’s independent monitoring programme includes sediment samples taken and analysed for americium-241 and caesium-137 at locations similar to those that you have sampled. The results of the sampling that you report are consistent with our own routine monitoring (published in the RIFE reports) and research we have commissioned on the Esk estuary. The following link will take you to our research report on this: (https://www.gov.uk/ government/publications/ survey-of-gamma-dose-rates-in- air-around-the-esk-estuary- related-to-radioactivity- levels-in-sediments).
With regard to radioactive particles on West Cumbrian beaches, we have been advised by Public Health England (PHE) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) that the overall health risk to people from radioactive particles is very low and much lower than other risks that people accept when using the beaches. We have produced a briefing note on the matter, which can be found at the following link:
(https://www.gov.uk/ government/publications/ monitoring-beaches-near- sellafield-for-radioactive- material/monitoring-beaches- near-sellafield-for- radioactive-material).
PHE has advised that measures to protect the public are not needed, but that monitoring should continue for the Sellafield beach and 1 or 2 other west Cumbria beaches to check that the risks to the public remain low. The results of the programme are reported to us on a quarterly basis and we are notified at the time of any individual finds that meet ‘trigger levels’ for further laboratory analysis. We have developed an intervention plan such that if the situation changes due to overall trends, or individual finds, there are predefined actions to ensure the public remain protected. This intervention plan is available at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/ publications/sellafield– radioactive-objects- intervention-plan/sellafield– radioactive-objects- intervention-plan.
We are confident that the level of beach monitoring in place continues to be justified by the results of the monitoring which demonstrate find rates are well below the trigger values contained in the intervention plan and so confirm the low risk that any particles present pose to the public.
I hope the above information is helpful.
Please get in touch if you have any further queries or contact us within 2 months if you would like us to review the information we have sent.
Customer Engagement officer
Cumbria and Lancashire