MoD is given ultimatum over Dalgety Bay radiation
THE Ministry of Defence has been given three months to devise a “credible, long-term” plan to tackle radioactive pollution on Dalgety Bay, after the most dangerous particle yet was found on the beach.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has warned it will make the Fife beauty spot the first designated Radioactive Contaminated Land area in Scotland if a solution is not found by the end of February. At that stage, legal action would begin to force the MoD to take action.
The move follows a meeting of the Dalgety Bay Forum yesterday, involving representatives of Sepa, the Scottish Government and the MoD, where it was revealed that three more radioactive clusters were found at the weekend.
One of those measured 76 megabecquerels (MBq), the highest reading ever found on the stretch of Fife coastline.
The previous highest was 13MBq. The other two found at the weekend measured 3.6MBq and 4.5MBq.
All the particles have been taken to a laboratory for testing.
The radiation is believed to originate from radium coatings on dials on military aircraft based at Donibristle airbase, which were incinerated on the site after the Second World War.
Both the Scottish Government and Sepa believe the MoD is responsible, and are running out of patience.
Dr Paul Dale, principal policy officer at Sepa, said: “Sepa believes that the Ministry of Defence is responsible for the radioactive material present at Dalgety Bay.
“As the regulator, Sepa has a specific role under the Radioactive Contaminated Land Regulations to assess the fitness of the proposals of the responsible party for the protection of the environment and human health.
“We expect to see a draft of the remediation plan by the end of January 2012, and to have the final version by the end of February. If this does not happen, Sepa intends to designate the area as RCL by the end of March.”
Environment secretary Richard Lochhead added: “It is deeply disappointing that this situation has arisen as a result of inaction from the Ministry of Defence.
“I have urged the MoD on a number of occasions to take immediate action and come forward with credible plans to investigate the source of the contamination at Dalgety Bay.
“I would have expected the level of radioactivity to have impelled those responsible to do the right thing for the people of Dalgety Bay.”
The more powerful radioactive particles can lead to serious skin burns or, if ingested, have long-term health consequences.
Sepa has already cordoned off a 100-metre-long area of coastline, which is directly in front of an eroding headland, which it believes contains the particles.
Those found washed ashore at the weekend were found in the cordoned-off area. The ultimatum follows calls from former prime minister Gordon Brown, urging the MoD to tackle the problem.
“People must have their fears allayed,” the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said.
“This is a radioactive substance. Action has got to be taken immediately.”
The MoD said it was committed to tackling the problem.
A spokesman said: “The MoD has demonstrated a serious commitment to dealing with the problem at Dalgety Bay.
“The MoD has assisted Sepa in every way possible to date and we have reached an agreed way forward to work together to inform the position as to where any potential liability lies.”
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Tuesday 18 June 2013
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