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Carolyn Kaster/AP

Fukushima radiation now present in Irish milk samples

The Food Safety Authority confirms trace levels of iodine-131 in Irish milk samples, at levels that pose no threat to health.

RADIOACTIVE IODINE leaking from the Fukushima I nuclear plant has been found in three Irish milk samples, the nation’s food standards authority confirmed this evening.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland said tests carried out by the national radiological institute had confirmed trace levels of iodine-131, a radioactive isotope, in three individual samples.

The amounts were only a tiny fraction of the level of iodine presence permitted under European law, however, with the authority’s chief executive Professor Alan Reilly indicating that even the legal limit was set on a precautionary basis.

“Consumers should have absolutely no concerns in relation to this finding.  A person would have to drink some 96,000 litres of milk with Iodine-131 at current levels to exceed the annual safe limit set to protect consumers,” he said.

The readings had been taken by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII), the national agency charged with monitoring radiation in the atmosphere.

Those three readings saw recordings of 0.13, 0.19 and 0.18 becquerels (Bq) per litre, well below the maximum level of 500 Bq per kilogram of dairy produce permitted by the European Union.

“We had expected that such traces could occur given recent weather conditions, as it was already detected in the air,” Reilly said, adding that similar findings had been recorded in milk samples from France and Greece.

The RPII separately said that radiation levels in Irish air samples had continued to fluctuate over the last few days, with those levels consistent with the known pattern of radioactive releases from Fukushima.

Those fluctuations, the institute elaborated, were also consistent with those recorded by other national authorities where Japanese radiation had been observed.

Samples of radiation were also observed in a sample of rainwater collected in Dublin between March 22 and April 4, though that level – of 2.6 Bq per litre – was of “no concern from a public health perspective,” the RPII statement read.