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IAEA Press Release

2000/17 (2 August 2000)

Continuous Radiation Monitor for the Irish Sea

Buoy at Mel in Monaco

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) in co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Environment and Heritage Service of Northern Ireland has deployed an experimental buoy in the north western Irish Sea, equipped with a radiation detector capable of continuously measuring radioactive contamination in seawater. The detector is particularly suitable for measuring caesium-137, a radionuclide that is discharged from the reprocessing facility at Sellafield, United Kingdom. The buoy also carries instruments for measuring physico-chemical parameters such as current velocity, salinity and temperature.

The measurements will be transmitted daily via satellite to the IAEAís Marine Environment Laboratory (MEL) in Monaco and from there relayed to the RPIIís laboratory in Dublin. The collection and laboratory analysis of seawater samples will complement these measurements.

The experimental buoy with its instrumental assembly was developed and constructed by a Norwegian company, Oceanor, in conjunction with the IAEAís Marine Environmental Laboratory. The Irish Sea project was planned jointly by the RPII and the Environment and Heritage Service of Northern Ireland, who are, together with IAEA-MEL, supporting the project financially.

The project is scheduled to run for twelve months and will provide valuable information on the performance of this new technology in field conditions. It will also provide important data on the circulation of caesium-137 in the north western Irish Sea.

Commenting on the deployment, the Deputy Chief Executive of the RPII Mr John D. Cunningham said "The RPII is delighted to be involved in this challenging project particularly as it involves the development of a new instrument that can be used in the surveillance of radioactive contamination of the marine environment." He added: "This project will provide very useful data on radioactivity in the north western Irish Sea and these will complement the RPIIís on going marine monitoring programme. The RPII particularly welcomes the participation of the Northern Ireland Environment and Heritage Service in the project."


Marie Kelly
Information Officer
Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland
3 Clonskeagh Square
Dublin 14
Ph: (01) 2697766

John D. Cunningham
Deputy Chief Executive
Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland