16 February 2000
Farmer fined over radioactive meter

By FWi staff

A LINCOLNSHIRE farmer faces a bill of more than 6200 after pleading guilty to keeping radioactive material without the correct registration.

Lincoln Magistrates fined Frank Wilson 3000 with 3213 costs for failing to properly register that he owned a yield-measurement meter incorporating radioactive isotope Americum 241.

Mr Wilson runs the 1100 acre (445ha) Highcliffe Farm at Ingham.

The meter, in an aluminium container, was included in a Massey Ferguson combine harvester he bought in 1992.

The Environment Agency told magistrates that Mr Wilson applied for registration, but failed to pay the fee, thereby invalidating the application.

In July last year inspectors visited the farm and found the device was still being used, fitted to a replacement combine.

Mr Wilson said this week that when he took delivery of the Massey Ferguson combine, he had been told there were no extras to be paid.

When he was informed about the need to register the yield meter under the Radioactive Substances Act, he expected either the dealer or the manufacturer to pay the fee.

Environment Agency spokesman Stuart Richmond said: “We would urge all owners of combine harvesters fitted with radioactive crop-flow meters to ensure they are registered and help minimise any potential risk to the public or the environment.”

Afterwards, Mr Wilson said he thought the fine and costs were “pretty harsh” and would be examining a breakdown of the figures with his solicitor.