Swallows nesting at the Sellafield nuclear complex in Cumbria have been contaminated with low levels of radioactivity from the site, according to the Environment Agency.
There are at least two open-air ponds at Sellafield, both dating back to the 1950s. They store radioactive waste from early nuclear reactors and may generate warmth that attracts insects.
Up to 30 swallows had been surveyed. Nutrients and nesting materials are being removed to try and make the site less attractive for birds’ breeding said a Sellafield spokesman.
An ONR spokesman said: “Sellafield Limited is aware of the potential spread of radioactive material from the site by wildlife and, with the assistance of specialist wildlife control contractors, it has been taking steps over a number of years to address this matter.”
Martin Forwood, of Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (CORE), said the “much-loved and now radioactive birds” – and their offspring – would be “unwittingly carrying a highly toxic message from Sellafield”.
It is not the first time birds have been affected by operations at Sellafield or other nuclear energy installations.
- Two years ago, seagull eggs were destroyed at the Sellafield site to control the bird population amid radiation fears
- More than 150 pigeons were found to be contaminated with Sellafield’s radioactivity in 1998, in 2008
- In 2008, 39 birds were poisoned on the site, following concerns that they had been swimming in open ponds containing radioactive waste
- More contaminated gulls were culled in 2010
- There have also been problems with radioactive fruit flies and gnats at the Hanford nuclear plant in the United States
Source: News and Star
Source: North-West Evening Mail
Source: Lubbock Online
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