§ Mr. William Ross
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many sheep, and what area of land in Northern Ireland, were originally placed under movement restrictions as a result of the Chernobyl disaster; what are the numbers of sheep and area of land still so affected; what were and are the classes of sheep; what was the level of radioactivity in the sheepmeat and in the vegetation when first detected, at the maximum levels, and at the latest available dates; and what were these dates.
§ Mr. Viggers
The restrictions on the movement and slaughter of sheep introduced in September 1987 as a result of monitoring of young lambs applied to some 21,612 acres containing an estimated 35,000 sheep. There was no breakdown of sheep by class available at that time. The restrictions continue to apply to this land area which is estimated to contain some 23,000 sheep—comprising 18,000 ewes/rams and 5,000 lambs.
The maximum readings of radiocaesium from monitoring of sheep and lambs as required by the restrictions were found in young unfinished lamb and was 4,761 bq/kg recorded on 17 September 1987 while monitoring through the current year has identified a maximum reading of 2,199 bq/kg recorded on 19 August 1988. Of the 358 sheep presented in the week ended 13 November 1988 by farmers wishing to take them out of the restricted areas the maximum was 857 bq/kg of radiocaesium for ewes and 159 for lamb. A report on monitoring results is published by the Department of Agriculture on a regular basis.
Routine monitoring of vegetation which gave a maximum result of 830 bq/kg was stopped during 1986 as such data could not be taken as a reliable guide to levels in growing livestock.