Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Dalgety Bay radiation: Report due next week

Map of Dalgety Bay Image copyright MOD
Image caption The red line shows the site boundary of the affected area at Dalgety Bay

A report on radioactive contamination at Dalgety Bay in Fife is due to be published next week.

It has been produced by the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE).

The report has been obtained by the Guardian newspaper. It said scientists have confirmed the contamination poses "a potential health risk".

The Ministry of Defence insists there is no cause for additional public concern over the pollution in the bay.

Radioactive contamination is thought to have been caused by the MoD breaking up hundreds of planes after World War Two.

The instrument dials on the aircraft had been illuminated by paint containing radium-226.

The planes were 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 in the 1960s.

'Deeply concerning'

Former Prime Minister and Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Gordon Brown called for cancer checks because of possible changes in radiation dose rates.

He said the report says further work is needed to determine any significant risk from skin contact - particularly for children.

Mr Brown added: "I have put down urgent questions. There has been a dereliction of duty. There should have been immediate action on the report not its suppression for months on end.

"I want an explanation of why no action was taken immediately on child health and on advising urgent action on cleaning up the area."

A Scottish government spokesman said: "The delay in publishing the report is extremely regrettable, and demonstrates the MoD's ongoing lack of consideration for the community of Dalgety Bay.

"It is imperative that the report is published as soon as possible so that the situation at Dalgety Bay can be addressed fully.

"The Minister for Public Health wrote to the Secretary of State for Health on 22 April to call for the report's publication, but as yet no response has been received and the report remains unpublished.

"It is deeply concerning that publication of a report made by an independent expert advisory committee to Scottish ministers has apparently been delayed by the Department of Health.

"However we are reassured that the delay to publication has not increased the public health risk - access restrictions remain in place and Sepa are working on remediation options."

'Best advice'

The MoD said that it was committed to making sure the local community at Dalgety Bay would receive the best possible advice on the radiation leak.

A spokesman said: "The advice from the Health Protection Agency and Public Health England has consistently been that the risk to the local community at Dalgety Bay from the presence of radium is very low.

"We are committed to ensuring that those living locally continue to receive the best possible advice which is why we have worked closely with COMARE to ensure the report's findings are based on the most comprehensive and up to date information available."

The spokesman added: "The draft report has been shared with the Scottish government and Scottish Environment Protection Agency so the local community can continue to receive the most appropriate advice and any necessary action can be taken. The report will be published as soon as possible."

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