U.K. lifts Chernobyl restrictions on sheep

March 23, 2012 at 2:42 PM   |   Comments

LONDON, March 23 (UPI) -- Restrictions on hundreds of British sheep farms, in place since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, have finally been lifted after 26 years, officials said.

The 1986 disaster affected 10,000 farms in the United Kingdom and restrictions meant before farmers could sell livestock the animals' radiation levels had to be monitored.

If the levels were above a certain threshold, the sheep had to be moved to another area and the levels had to subside before they could be sold and consumed.

In removing the restrictions, the Food Standards Agency said the controls were not "proportionate" to the "very low risk" and ending them would not compromise the consumer, the BBC reported Thursday.

"It cannot be anything else apart from good news," said Ed Bailey, National Farmers' Union president for Cymru county. "We've had the assurances that the product is completely safe for human consumption and that's the main thing."

Of the 9,800 British farms and more than 4 million sheep originally placed under restriction, there were only 327 farms in north Wales and eight farms in Cumbria still subject to the rules, officials said.

The restrictions would be lifted beginning June 1, the food agency said.

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