Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Dalgety Bay radiation: MoD's proposals revealed

Dalgety Bay Image copyright bbc
Image caption Sepa said last year that the contamination at the beach had been casued by the MoD

The BBC has obtained details of the options being considered by the Ministry of Defence to deal with radioactive contamination on the beach at Dalgety Bay in Fife.

They include excavation, containment or simply putting up a fence or warning signs.

The proposals are due to be published next week.

Thousands of radioactive particles have been found on the shore.

It is believed they came from instruments from WW2 aircraft that were destroyed and dumped there.

The MoD has been formally named as the polluter by the environment agency Sepa. An MoD agency has now drawn up management options to deal with the problem.

'Shocked and dismayed'

These include new warning signs or a big fence to keep people off the shore, to build a stone barrier system to stop more particles being released, to excavate the area and remove contaminated material or a combination of these possibilities.

A spokesman for the MoD said: "The Ministry of Defence remains committed to playing an active role, alongside other parties, in achieving a long term solution to the contamination issues at Dalgety Bay."

The local MP, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, said the option of putting up a fence or warning signs would be "offensive" to local people and should be ruled out.

He said: "I'm quite shocked and dismayed that one of the options that is still being considered is actually doing nothing - leaving a fence here, or alternatively removing the fence and just putting up a warning sign like the one we've got here, forever.

"And they admit that if they do this, there's still the waste there, there's still the risk from the waste, there's still the contamination, there's still the coastal erosion.

"So, I've asked the minister to rule out the option of doing nothing."

'Waiting decades'

Sepa said it had met last week with Fife Council, the Dalgety Bay Sailing Club and the Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) of the MoD.

The meeting was described by Sepa as "very positive", with all parties agreeing to look at how they can work collaboratively and ensure that any future works at Dalgety Bay are "proportionate and can be delivered without unnecessary delay".

The agency's report into the contamination, which was published last year, said the MoD had routinely incinerated and disposed of aircraft dials in the bay before the town was developed.

The dials had been illuminated by paint containing radium-226.

The aircraft had been stationed at the nearby HMS Merlin airfield, which was commissioned in 1939 as a Royal Naval Aircraft Repair Yard and decommissioned in 1959 before being sold off through the 1960s.

Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "Local residents of Dalgety Bay have been waiting decades for this mess to be cleaned up.

"A Sepa investigation last year concluded the MoD were responsible for the contamination. Any remediation options must address the clean-up adequately as soon as possible to the satisfaction of the local residents."

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