20 January 2000
British sheep pass Chernobyl tests

by FWi staff

SHEEP from two more farms in Cumbria contaminated with radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear accident 14 years ago are finally safe to eat.

Government officials decided to grant exemption on post-Chernobyl controls on movement and slaughter from the two farms after recently monitoring the area.

This showed that levels of radiation continue to decline slowly, although nine farms remain under restriction for contamination, covering around 11,500 sheep.

Radioactivity levels must be consistently below 1,000 becquerels per kg for restrictions to be removed on livestock destined for human consumption.

Flocks on 10 farms — mainly around Ulpha, Loweswater and Whicham on the edges of the Lake District National Park — were tested last summer.

Animals were monitored using a specially-designed portable radiation monitor measuring radioactivity in the thigh, the animals largest muscle.

The Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine exploded in April 1986, releasing radiation across the Ukraine, Belarus, eastern and western Europe, and beyond.

When measures were first introduced in 1986, the government placed restrictions on 1,670 farms in the uplands of the United Kingdom

A year ago restrictions remained on 300 farms in north Wales, 40 in Northern Ireland, 20 in Scotland, and 11 in Cumbria. About 40,000 sheep were unfit to eat.