FORMER prime minister Gordon Brown has called on the Ministry of Defence to pay for the clean-up of a Scottish beach polluted by radiation after the nation’s environmental agency blamed the government department for contaminating the area.
• Gordon Brown urges MoD to pay for Dalgety Bay clean-up after report finds government responsible for pollution
• Radioactive particles and high-activity radiation discovered on beach as Sepa named MoD as guilty party
An investigation published yesterday by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) found that the MoD was responsible for radioactive particles and high-activity radiation at Dalgety Bay in Fife.
Sepa’s investigation confirmed that the MoD deposited a large amount of ash and other waste, known as clinker, on the coast at Dalgety Bay before the town was developed, which created radioactive sources.
The agency found that significant amounts of material remained buried on the coast where they continued to decay and re-contaminate the area.
The MoD disputed the findings and questioned the “adequacy and validity” of Sepa’s approach to the report.
However, Mr Brown, who has already called two key debates at Westminster on the issue, said he would call a third unless the MoD accepted it was “morally obliged” to foot the bill for making the site safe.
The MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said: “Having been named as the polluter, the Ministry of Defence must now agree to fund the clean-up of the area to remove the contaminated substances from the Dalgety Bay beach and the work must start immediately.
“I understand that the MoD is saying that it has concerns over the adequacy and validity of the exercise which has named them as the polluter. In my view, the MoD are merely delaying the inevitable.
“I have already led two parliamentary debates on this issue. We know the MoD’s Defence Infrastructure Organisation and the chief executive of the Sepa have already met. Now with the naming of the party responsible for the radiation pollution, the MoD has a moral duty as the original polluter to clean up the site.”
Dr James Gemmill, radioactive substances unit manager at Sepa, said the report was necessary to “clarify responsibilities for the contamination at Dalgety Bay and determine which parties need to address the issue”.
He added: “A lot of work has been put into compiling the report and it, along with the previous risk-assessment report, represents another significant step forward to resolving the situation at Dalgety Bay.”
However, the Ministry of Defence refused to accept responsibility.
A spokesman for the department said: “The MoD will consider the report findings in detail and respond to Sepa in due course, but has concerns over the adequacy and validity of both Sepa’s risk assessment and its approach.
“We will seek an early meeting with Sepa at senior official level to raise these concerns and discuss the way forward.”
The Ministry of Defence also stressed that it continued to be committed to voluntarily working with government agencies to tackle issues at the beach and funded monitoring of the radiation levels at its own cost.
It added that public health monitoring showed the risk was low. Last year, a report found that radiation levels at Dalgety Bay posed no serious public health threat and should not stop anyone visiting the area.