This is recognised as having, in the past, done more harm than the incident itself – for example with Chernobyl,
We should of course be concerned about avoidable exposure to high radiation levels, but let’s put recent reported events in Scotland into perspective.
In Gordon Brown’s Dalgety Bay, a few particles having a count rate of up to a million becquerels gives the impression (as intended) of a huge amount of radiation but they were actually collected over a year from a sizeable land area – a few grains of sand on a beach don’t amount to much.
I should imagine that the risk of a broken neck from slipping on wet seaweed is considerably greater than the radiation hazard. We may note that one million becquerels would be about the radioactive count rate of the bodies at a full sitting of the Scottish Parliament; should there be a warning notice at the entrance?
I do not know exactly what the two giga-becquerels at Dounreay refers to (your report, 10 March).
That would be about the count rate of a year’s radioactive emissions from a large coal- fired power station, which would be diluted in a million tonnes of ash so not really much of a problem.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency, if anything, tends to be regarded as an over-zealous organisation so I would pay more attention to its judgment that the Dounreay incident was of a minor nature than the rather hysterical reaction of some of our politicians.
(Dr) A McCormick