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N-WASTE IS DUMPED IN CLYDE; Plutonium threat sparks fury.

NUCLEAR bosses have been accused of secretly dumping radioactive waste in the sea near a popular Scots resort.

Horrified residents hit out after discovering that potentially lethal Plutonium 241 is being pumped into the Firth of Clyde.

The toxic chemical and other waste is in 6000 gallons of water released daily into the sea near Largs, Ayrshire, during the decommissioning of Hunterston A nuclear power station.

British Nuclear Fuels claim that the radioactivity levels of the liquid waste are so small that there is absolutely no risk.

They said disposal methods met all safety conditions and had been approved by official watchdogs.

But the company's bosses provoked further criticism after attempting to play down the risk by insisting: "The world is radioactive"

The comment came as one of the country's foremost experts on nuclear waste warned that people could end up eating radioactive fish.

Dr Hamish Banford, head of decommissioning at the Scottish Universities Research and Reactor Centre at East Kilbride, said there is a risk of Plutonium 241 entering the food chain.

He said: "Plutonium is not dangerous from the outside. The danger comes if you get it inside you.

"It will get absorbed into the body tissue and damage cells.

"Traces of plutonium in shellfish could be passed on to bigger fish and it could get back to the public.

"That should have been considered by those wishing to discharge this into the sea.

"Since authorisation was given by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the amounts must be very small.

"But the route is there and no one can deny that."

The BNFL action prompted fury among local parents.

David Brain, of Fairlie, near Largs, who has two children - Ross, seven, and Andrew, five - said: "It is an outrage that there was no local consultation about this."

David, 45, said residents learned of the plutonium waste from Hunterston through a voluntary monitoring group.

He said: "If it hadn't been for them, we probably would never have known.

"We won't be convinced this plutonium discharge is safe until BNFL employees let their children swim in the bay."
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Author:Paterson, Billy
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 3, 2000
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