A NUCLEAR industry consultant has called for a stepping up of regular scans of a far north coast beach after a tiny fragment of reprocessed fuel was found to contain radioactive americium.
London-based John Large does not think the first recorded presence of a so-called “daughter of plutonium” in nuclear waste washed up on Sandside beach, near Reay warrants closing it off to the public.
But he has urged operators of the nearby Dounreay plant to “keep on top of the situation” and ensure locals are not facing an undue risk from the pollution.
The particle was the 275th to be unearthed on the beach since the discovery of the first in 1984. Found 18 centimetres under the surface during a routine sweep on January 11, it has a caesium 137 count of 110,000 bequerels of radioactivity.
If ingested, americium-241 can work its way into the bones, liver and, in males, the testicles, and remain in the body for some time.
Mr Large said: “An increased level of surveillance is probably the best course of action rather than to close the beach.
A response from DSRL is awaited.