UK farms still under restriction 23 years after Chernobyl

May 1, 2009 11:16 am 

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LONDON, Apr 30 -– Hundreds of farms in Britain remain under restriction on the use of land as a result of the radioactive fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the former Soviet Union 23 years ago, Health Minister Dawn Primarolo.

“We have been advised by the Food Standards Agency that restrictions on land use as a result of the Chernobyl accident relate to sheep farming only,” Primarolo told MPs.

“ There are 369 farms, or part farms, and approximately 190,000 sheep within the restricted areas of England, Scotland and Wales,” she said in a written parliament reply published on Wednesday.

The disaster at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine in 1986 was considered the worst in history , resulting in a severe release of radioactivity into the environment following a massive power excursion which destroyed the reactor.

The plume of highly radioactive fallout released into the atmosphere drifted over extensive parts of the western Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, Northern Europe, and eastern North America, with light nuclear rain falling as far as Ireland.

Primarolo said that in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, approximately 9,700 farms and 4,225,000 sheep were placed under restriction across the United Kingdom.

The vast majority of British farms remaining under restrictions, 355 in number, are in Wales with only 9 in England and five in Scotland. All restrictions in Northern Ireland were eventually lifted in 2000. Western European countries largely played down the fall-out effects of the disaster with some, but not all, introducing arbitrary regulations pertaining to the legality of importation of certain foods. (PNA/IRNA)

ALM/ebp

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