Sheep in Scotland still contain Chernobyl radiation


By Cara Sulieman

SHEEP in Scotland still carry traces of radiation from Chernobyl – over 20 years since the catastrophic explosion.

A huge cloud of radioactivity spread across Europe after the nuclear reactor in the Ukraine overheated and blew up – and five farms across Scotland are still suffering from the mistakes made in 1986.

The affected farms are in Stirling and Ayrshire and are thought to cover around 7000 hectares of land.

Almost 3000 sheep are still contaminated by the radiation, and are subject to restrictions from the Food Standard Agency (FSA).

Indelible paint

Radioactive caesium-137 released by the accident mixed with rain and landed on peat and grass in upland areas across the country. The sheep eat the grass and pick up traces of the caesium.

If the concentration of caesium is more than 1000 becquerels per kilogram then the animals must be marked with indelible paint and can’t be slaughtered for food until the levels fall below the limit.

Every summer the FSA carries out tests to see whether the controls can be relaxed at the effected farms.

The restrictions were first past in 1987 on 73 farms across the country, but it was thought they would be lifted by now.

“Protect public safety”

However, the contamination has lasted longer than anyone thought it would.

An FSA spokeswoman said: “The restrictions will remain so long as they are required to protect public food safety.”


  1. I was hitch hiking in Scotland when this happened and remember walking and waiting in the rain, didn’t eat the grass and had clothes on. Would I be contaminated?

  2. There are nuclear facilities near Ayrshire and Sterling and what a coincidence there are contaminated sheep in Trawsfynydd , Wales a mere 3 miles from the decommissioned nuclear power station which released ponds water into the adjacent man made lake.

  3. Excuse me but how do they know it is not from a local “incident”? It is very “convenient” to claim radiation in the UK originated from a country hundreds of kilometers away.

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