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Explosion could send contamination to Ireland

IRELAND could be hit with radiation if Japanese nuclear scientists fail to prevent an explosion at the stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant over the coming days.

Radioactive contamination from the plant is drifting across the Pacific ocean and is unlikely to reach Ireland, but if fears of a massive explosion are realised, fallout could reach us, despite Japan being almost 10,000km away.

The Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland said it was "extremely unlikely" that any material being released from the nuclear plant would have health implications here.

But Met Eireann forecaster Pat Clarke warned that if an explosion occurred, Ireland could be affected.

"If there was an explosion of up to 30,000 feet, that (material) would be carried (across the world)," he said.

"Different factors would come into play -- wind patterns at different height levels, and how fast or slow they would bring stuff around the Pacific. If the contamination doesn't get up to that height, there isn't a problem. If it rains or snows, there would be deposition locally. In theory, anything can be moved around the world in time. It depends on what level and the concentrations."

Not until last year did the UK Food Standards Agency declare that the Scottish sheep industry was free of radioactive material from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. Despite being more than 2,000km away, farmers were not allowed to slaughter, sell or move their livestock without testing and government approval.

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