• March 11, 2011

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland has responded to a query from the Celtic League concerning levels of technetium-99 caused by discharges from Sellafield (see link):


The League had asked if recent published data recorded an increase in technetium-99 levels and this has been confirmed.

The text of the response from RPII Chief Executive, Dr Ann McGarry, is set out below:

“9th March 2011

Mr. J B Moffatt
Director of Information
Celtic League
11 Cleiy Rhennee
Kirk Michael
Isle of Man

Dear Mr. Moffatt,

I refer to your correspondence of the 15th February 2011 (received 18th February) regarding the RPII report `Radioactivity Monitoring of the Irish Environment, 2009′.

The graph referred to in your letter (Figure 2, Page 3 of the report) shows the actual technetium-99 discharges from Sellafield from 1986-2009, and there was indeed an increase (approximately 30%) in the amount of technetium-99 discharged in 2009 compared to 2008. This reflects the higher amount of fuel reprocessed in the THORP and Magnox reprocessing plants compared to the previous year.

Although discharges of technetium-99 were higher in 2009 than in 2008, the general long-term downward trend, from their peak in 1995, has so far continued. This overall decrease in discharges has led to reductions in technetium-99 activity concentrations measured in seafood landed at Irish ports and in the Irish marine environment, generally. Overall, concentrations at each measurement location have been similar from year to year for the past number of years, and any fluctuations are most likely due to normal measurement variability and seasonal effects in the environment. This is illustrated in Figures 9 and 11 of the report which graph the measured concentrations of technetium-99 in seawater and seaweed (Fucus vesiculosus), respectively. By 2005, levels of technetium-99 in the Irish marine environment had effectively fallen back to those observed in the early 1990s and this continues to be reflected in the concentrations measured in 2009.

The data for concentrations in seawater and seaweed (Fucus vesiculosus) as measured in 2008 and 2009 are reproduced below for the sampling site at Balbriggan, Co. Dublin. This represents the location sampled most frequently but the trends observed are the same as at other locations sampled along the north-east coast.

I hope this information is helpful to the Celtic League. If you have further queries, please feel free to contact me again and I will do my best to address them. I note that you published a copy of your letter to me on your website and would appreciate if you will also publish our response.

Yours sincerely,

Ann McGarry
Chief Executive”

The tables referred to above cannot be formatted on Celtic News however these can be forwarded by email or fax to any CL News subscriber who wishes to receive them.

The full RPII report can be accessed in pdf at:


J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information
Celtic League


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