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Thursday, 02 October 2014

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Sellafield in new row over culled roe deer

A NUCLEAR site has called its analysis of culled deer standard practice – but anti-radiation campaigners believe the animals were used as “sacrificial canaries”.

On March 28 Sellafield Ltd publicly announced that three deer trapped within their fencing were culled as a last resort, following expert advice from the Deer Initiative.

They have now revealed that samples from the carcases were used for analysis.

Sellafield said the analysis was part of “standard environmental practice”.

The campaign group, Radiation Free Lakeland, however, say they are suspicious about Sellafield’s actions over the issue.

Member of the group Marianne Birkby claimed Sellafield enticed new wildlife into the area with new woodland and then trapped them with new fences.

She said: “They’ve now been killed and tissue harvested from the increasingly threatened native roe deer.

“We suspect this was Sellafield’s intention all along, to use the deer as an experiment.”

To back up their claims, Radiation Free Lakeland has pointed to a report produced for Sellafield by the Deer Initiative in 2012.

The Deer Initiative was consulted by Sellafield bosses to help resolve the deer issue.

Part of the report reads: “Deer are excellent bio-indicators and sentinels of environmental contamination.

“Given the nature of the industrial work at Sellafield, the regular sampling of deer bone and liver tissue might be an attractive prospect for those responsible for environmental monitoring at the site.”

Radiation Free Lakeland also use the Deer Initiative’s report to question the logic of culling deer.

Mrs Birkby said: “The report describes what will happen should grazing animals not be present in this relatively new grazing area.

“It mentions the potential security threat that could be posed by dense thicket developing due to the lack of grazing.

“Sellafield told Natural England the deer were a ‘security threat’. They can’t have it both ways.”

Responding to Mrs Birkby’s claims, a Sellafield spokesman said: “This analysis was not the motivation for the cull but does provide reassurance, both to ourselves and our regulators.

“The results will form part of our discharge and environmental report, published annually on our website.

“We have been open and transparent throughout this process and will be making no further comment.”

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