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Thursday, 30 October 2014

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Radioactive mosquitoes blamed for contaminated bird droppings at Sellafield nuclear site

Radioactive mosquitoes are being blamed after contaminated swallow droppings were discovered at Sellafield.

An Environment Agency report revealed that bird droppings from around the swallow nesting site were found to be radioactively contaminated.

It is believed the swallows, which are nesting in the transport section at the atomic complex, were contaminated by eating mosquitoes which fly above Sellafield’s radioactive storage ponds.

A spokesman for the plant said checks at the nesting area showed the radiation dose was the “indistinguishable from natural background radiation found in any work place, on or off a nuclear site”. An anti-nuclear spokesman, however, said the birds were carrying “a highly toxic message” back to South Africa when they migrate at the end of the summer.

Sellafield said the radiation level was so low it did not require any protective clothing to be worn and said they were putting in place measures to reduce the birds’ access to certain facilities.

“Sellafield Ltd is aware of the potential issue for birds to become contaminated with low levels of radioactivity as a result of historic operations at Sellafield,” a spokesman added.

“Monitoring and analysis has shown that the contamination poses no threat to health as there is no direct pathway for exposure to members of the public.”

Martin Forwood, of Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE), said the “much-loved and now radioactive birds” – and their offspring – would be “unwittingly carrying a highly toxic message from Sellafield”.

He said they wanted more information on the radiation levels.

It is not the first time birds have got campaigners in a flap at Sellafield.

Two years ago, seagull eggs were destroyed at the site to control the bird population amid radiation fears.

And in 2008, 39 birds were poisoned on the site, following concerns that they had been swimming in open ponds containing radioactive waste.

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