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Energy: Nuclear Reactors

House of Lords written question – answered on 29th November 2011.

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Photo of Lord Maginnis of Drumglass Lord Maginnis of Drumglass UUP

To ask Her Majesty's Government what were the effects in the United Kingdom of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster; whether any long-term effects of that disaster remain; whether the nuclear reactor at Metsamor in Armenia is of identical or similar design to that which failed at Chernobyl; and, if so, whether they have any concerns about the safety of that reactor.

Photo of Lord Marland Lord Marland The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change

Following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 a number of uplands in Scotland, Northern Ireland, England and Wales were subject to deposition of a number of radionuclide particles due to the weather conditions at the time. The environmental effects of the Chernobyl accident continue to be monitored as part of environmental monitoring for radioactivity. Such monitoring has been carried out across the UK annually for a number of years. There are still restrictions on moving, selling and slaughtering sheep in some upland areas of the UK. These was limited to 340 farms in 2010, compared with 9,700 farms following the accident in 1986. The restrictions on the two remaining farms in Scotland were lifted during 2010.

The Armenian nuclear power plant at Metsamor is a similar Soviet-era design to the one at Chernobyl reactor in that it has no primary containment. The UK has supported the EU position that the reactor at Metsamor should be decommissioned as soon as possible while recognising the reliance of Armenia on the nuclear power plant for energy.

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