Anger at long delay to clean up radioactive material at Fife beach

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Fife councillors have expressed frustration over the news that radioactive material clean-up in West Fife could be delayed for another two years.

At the Dalgety Bay Community Council, Ministry of Defence (MOD) representatives confirmed that they were unable to progress with plans to clean up the contaminated beach due to waiting almost a year for ministerial approval to finance the project.

Radioactive particles were first discovered at the headland near Dalgety Bay Sailing Club as early as 1990. Previous studies of the coastline suggest such incinerated radioactive waste was dumped prior to 1959, when the nearby airbase HMS Merlin was decommissioned.

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After years of refusing to accept any liability for these materials, the MOD was named as the polluter by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

The remediation plan for the site was agreed with local stakeholders, but it was confirmed in November 2018 that work will not even start in 2019 after the UK Government took longer to fully approve the remediation plan. Such work then will be delayed until 2020, some thirty years after the issue came to light.

But now representatives are saying it might be 2021 before work can start after more delays from ministers, despite reassurances given earlier this year that the project was on track.

Dalgety Bay Councillor David Barratt said: “It’s extremely disappointing that an entirely avoidable delay has occurred, and even more frustrating that uncertainty persists while the government minister sits on the decision. On top of the uncertainty with Rosyth, it is becoming increasingly clear that Brexit is not the only thing the UK government lack a credible plan for.” 

This came days after the announcement that the denuclearising of MOD subs has also been delayed. The MOD’s Submarine Dismantling Project (SDP) was established to dismantle around 25 redundant nuclear powered submarines located in Rosyth and Plymouth.  

But the MOD is considering a potentially significant change in its plans to dismantle nuclear submarines located at Rosyth.

Councillor Alice McGarry, convener of South and West Fife Area Committee, said: “I sought and received assurances from MoD at various meetings during the consultation process that no waste from the demonstrator or subsequent projects would be stored in the AWAF facility or elsewhere at Rosyth and that it would be removed from site.

“There would have been huge opposition to the demonstrator project had these assurances not been given.  To renege on this is simply not acceptable and the whole issue needs to go back out to consultation.”