For the past 40 years, the National Radiological Protection Board (now part of the UK Health Protection Agency) has, in conjunction with Environmental Health in Jersey, measured the amount of radioactivity in airborne dust and in milk.
The airborne dust is sampled from:
Milk is sampled from:
- Isle of Man
The sampling sites were chosen to represent the whole of the United Kingdom.
In the past, radioactivity has been detected as a result of nuclear weapons testing and the nuclear reactor accident at Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986. The programme can also detect other sources of significant widespread contamination in the environment.
Radioactive readings declined
Since the beginning of the 1990s the levels of man-made radioactivity in the general environment have fallen markedly and in many cases are now almost undetectable. The results in recent years continue to show a downward trend. No sources of radioactivity other than weapons testing and the Chernobyl accident were detected.
Marine samples are gathered from Jersey and the other Channel Islands and analysed by Health Protection. This testing allows surveillance of the effects of liquid disposals from the French reprocessing plant at Cap de la Hague and the nuclear power station at Flamanville.
The programme also serves to monitor the potential effects of historic disposal of solid waste at Hurd Deep. Hurd Deep is a deep underwater valley north west of the Channel Islands. Fish and shellfish are monitored for radiation as well as sediment samples and sea water and seaweed.
Marine radioactivity in the Channel Islands 1990-2009
Annual sampling is carried out for:
- sea water
- edible crab
Bi-annual sampling is carried out for:
- spider crab
- bass, and pollack
Quarterly sampling is carried out for:
- fucus seaweed
- porphyra seaweed
- laminaria seaweed
Results show that concentrations of radioactivity in fish and shellfish are low and some are lower than previous years. No evidence of radioactivity from the Hurd Deep site have been found. The influence of discharges from Cap de La Hague on milk samples from the Channel Islands in 1999 was very small and close to or below the limits of detection.
Radioactivity in Food and the Environment (RIFE) reports on CEFAS website