Fife beach radiation: Clean-up project only ‘50-50’ to hit completion date

A Fife beach contaminated with radiation may not be cleaned up by a target date of September 2022, it has emerged.

Stephen Ritchie, from the Ministry of Defence (MOD), admitted it was now “50/50” as to whether work to remove hazardous material from Dalgety Bay will be completed on schedule after the project was beset by delays.

The stretch of coastline at Dalgety Bay is contaminated with radium from scrapped aircraft instrument panels, and a remediation plan has been in the pipeline for many years.

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Those efforts finally got underway in May, more than a year after originally planned, but work has now been paused until April due to the potential disturbance to wintering birds.

Dalgety Bay radiation clean-up  (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)Dalgety Bay radiation clean-up  (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)
Dalgety Bay radiation clean-up (Pic: Lisa Ferguson)

In an update to FIfe Council, Mr Ritchie said work was progressing but stressed the project timescales should become clearer in the spring.

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“Are we as confident as we were at the beginning of last year that the work will be completed by the end of September?

"We feel that it’s probably 50/50,” he said.

Pic: Lisa FergusonPic: Lisa Ferguson
Pic: Lisa Ferguson

“We reckon we can get through the work a lot faster than we have done over the last year and the understanding between our contractor Balfour Beatty and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) has improved greatly.

“But I’ve got to be honest and say the first two months of the new window will be critical as to whether we meet that date or not.

“We need to assess the rate of which we’re getting through the remediation process and we can only do that at the end of April, start of May.”

Thousands of radioactive particles have been found on the shore at Dalgety Bay since 1990, though they pose a low risk to public health.

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

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Work which started in May includes replacing rock armour around the headland and installing a new slipway fo Dalgety Bay Sailing Club.

Radioactive material is being removed and taken to a facility near Huntingdon south of the border.

Once remediation has been completed, it is expected the public will get unrestricted access to the beach for the first time since 2011.

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