Radioactive contamination of the Irish Sea by the Sellafield plant in England remains clearly detectable.
The Radiological Protection Institute says tests carried out on Irish seawater, seaweed, fish and shellfish show that contamination increased between 1990 and 1991. However, in 1992 the levels of contamination detected dropped again. Despite the high levels detected, contamination is down on measurements from the 1980s as a result of pressure by those campaigning against Sellafield.
The Institute claims that once the Thorp (Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant) Nuclear Reprocessing Plant at Sellafield becomes fully operational, contamination levels will rise again.
Tom O'Flaherty of the Radiological Protection Institute anticipates that contamination levels will increase and says that the monitoring programme will continue to assess to what extent.
According to the report, the greatest concern is the risk of a major accident at Sellafield. Trevor Sargent of the Green Party believes the very old technology used at Sellafield will inevitably lead to cracks.
While undesirable, the present level of contamination does not constitute a significant health hazard.
The main means by which contamination from Sellafield reaches the Irish public is through the consumption of fish. At present, the levels found in fish are only a fraction of the contamination received by a person from all other sources. The Radiological Protection Institute claims that going for a walk on the beach or a swim in the sea does not pose any danger.
An RTÉ News report broadcast on 16 June 1994. The reporter is Carol Coleman.