MoD will ‘continue’ to assist in the disposal of Fife radioactive finds

A Fife councillor has called on organisations to pull together and put pressure on the Ministry of Defence to find a solution over radioactive particle finds at Dalgety Bay beach.

Fife Council has now agreed to call on the Ministry of Defence to take action or remove radioactive particles from Dalgety Bay beach.

Fife Labour environment spokesperson, Cllr Mike Rumney, said: “Successive local councils in Fife have ensured that this area of beach at Dalgety Bay has been monitored for radium contamination over decades. We always sought to maintain a balance between ensuring we were not over alarmist while ensuring that there was no risk to the public from the low levels of radiation being found.

“Whilst we need to maintain that balance, it is clear that the finds of significantly higher levels of radiation over the last month changes the situation and the level of hazard and this requires more immediate work from the MoD. It is important that all organisations now pull together and put pressure on the MoD to work with us and to take the necessary steps to deal with this new situation that has come to light.”

Councillor George Kay, chair of the Police Fire and Safety Committee, said: “We are all losing patience with the Ministry of Defence. The situation at the beach has been going on too long.

“For the people of Dalgety Bay this is an unbearable situation. SEPA are very keen to have an appropriate long term remediation plan in place but the MoD appear to be dragging their heels. We don’t think this is good enough and a paper to the Police, Fire and Safety Committee will contain a proposal that the committee agree to support SEPA in their efforts to resolve the public safety issues by ensuring that the MoD carry out the necessary remediation work as a matter of urgency.”

The land was used as a Royal Naval Air base up to 1959 and latterly carried out aircraft maintenance, repair and salvage. Radioactive contamination of the beach, in the form of Radium-226 was first identified in a 1990 survey, believed to come from luminous paints used in the aircraft’s instruments.

Several surveys have since been carried out at Dalgety Bay Beach to determine the level of radioactive items present and any possible public health implications. The most recent survey was conducted by SEPA which concentrated on the headland and an area of “made up” ground adjacent to the beach to the east of the Sailing Club Clubhouse.

Since September 2011 SEPA have recovered over 400 sources of radiation during their investigations.

One particle was approximately 10 times more reactive than any other source recovered.

Currently, there is another source(s) at depth within the foreshore which may prove to be more radioactive than the vast majority of sources already found. It is SEPA’s intention to request assistance from the MoD for the removal of this source, as the MoD have stated that they will continue to support SEPA in the disposal of any items recovered.

The Health Protection Agency were requested on 7 November 2011 to draw up a public health risk assessment for the site and this assessment will be the basis of any action carried out at the site.