Sellafield’s Environmental Health watchdog suggested Copeland Council consults with Scotland’s Dounreay and Dalgety Bay Councils’ about the use of beach signs advising the presence of radioactive materials.
On Thursday 28th November, CORE (Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment) presented its case for the use of beach signs on West Cumbrian beaches to the Environmental Health Sub-Committee of the West Cumbria Sites Stakeholder Group (WCSSG). Highlighting that the human rights of members of the public to know that radioactive particles are polluting their local beaches were being ignored, CORE said such information should be included in some form on beach information boards. Copeland Council has refused to display this information.
CORE’s snapshot beach poll at St. Bees, of both locals and visitors during the summer, showed an overwhelming 97% support for this ‘right to know’, as well as wanting to know where further information was available. None of the West Cumbrian libraries held such information, nor was any publicly available at the Copeland Council Office.
CORE said today: “It is unacceptable that Copeland and the health agencies are playing ‘pass the parcel’ with the decision to be up front and pro-active about informing the public. That the regulators themselves admit a range of uncertainties about what is on-shore as well as off-shore, further weakens the wishy washy advice from the Health Protection Agency that ‘there is no risk to the public at this time’ – especially the numbers of radioactive particles found on West Cumbrian beaches have increased significantly in recent years, the beach areas monitored reduced and monitoring stopped altogether at holiday times when beaches are at their busiest”.
The Environmental Health Sub Committee chairman told the meeting that the Health Protection Agency advice (HPA) remained valid only until such time as a potentially ‘dangerously’ hot radioactive was discovered – triggering a review. Pointing out that the advice documents have already shown that HPA ‘cannot rule out that some relatively high activity objects may be present but remain undetected’, CORE said that there could not therefore be any guarantee that no-one has been harmed in the past or will be in the future.
CORE added today ‘We trust that Copeland will take on board the suggestions of the local Environmental Health Committee not only to provide beach monitoring data in local libraries but also to consult with the Scottish councils who, having faced similar radioactive beach contamination, erected signs and found at Dounreay that the public’s beach habits were largely unaffected. Our beach poll showed that being upfront and honest with the public does not scare anyone away. Finding out you’ve been deliberately kept in the dark will have the opposite effect’.