GROUND investigations are to begin later this month into potential radioactive contamination at a site near the former RAF base at Kinloss where hundreds of aircraft were dismantled following the Second World War.
It was revealed a year ago that a stretch of duneland at Findhorn, close to the former Moray air base, was used to dismantle more than 1,000 aircraft following the Armistice.
Instruments in the cockpits, which were coated with “glow in the dark” luminous paint containing radium, were burned and buried at the site. It was also revealed last year that the site could be contaminated by mustard gas. A land quality assessment had identified potential sulphur mustard contamination in 2004 before construction work began on a pipeline for a water treatment project.
A spokesman for Moray Council confirmed today that investigations at the site will now begin this month.
He said: “Staff from Moray Council’s contaminated land section will work alongside the Scottish Environment Protection Agency in digging test pits where it is believed large numbers of aircraft were broken up and buried at the end of the Second World War.
“Geophysical surveys of the area have already detected the presence of material which experts believe is worthy of further investigation. Staff expect to be on site for four or five days and will wear protective clothing as a precaution.”
The spokesman continued: “Aircraft parts disposed of as part of the dismantling process may have contained radioactive contamination in the form of luminous paint which was used on wartime planes. It is believed that chemical ordnance containing sulphur mustard may also have been buried.”
The spokesman added: “Our environmental health department and SEPA are working in collaboration to ensure that potential contamination from historical activities in the area does not pose an unacceptable risk to human health.
“The investigation will entail excavating a number of shallow pits based on information obtained from geophysical surveys of the area.”
Kinloss closed as an RAF base two years ago and is now home to the 39 Engineer (Air Support) Regiment.