Gordon Brown escapes scrutiny from BBC over Dalgety Bay scandal despite inaction when PM

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  By G.A.Ponsonby
 
Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown has escaped questions over his role in the scandal that has led to the radioactive contamination of Dalgety Bay after the MoD was formally named as the polluter.
 
Mr Brown, who is the local MP, refused to act when warned about the contamination five years ago when he was UK Prime Minister.

Despite this, the former Labour leader is now attempting to portray himself as a leading campaigner calling for the MoD to clean up the mess.  Locals are angry amid mounting fears that the area may now be closed down to the public.

In a report on BBC Radio Scotland, the former PM faced no questions from reporter Glenn Campbell over his inaction.  The BBC Scotland reporter told listeners the Labour MP was someone “who has been campaigning on this”.

The lengthy piece heard Brown say he was “shocked and dismayed” at the lack of action from the MoD.  Mr Brown called on the MoD to clean up the mess and remove risky contaminated material, claiming “it’s not too expensive”.

However, as revealed by Newsnet Scotland as far back as December 2011, Gordon Brown did little to facilitate a clean-up of the area when he was Prime Minister, despite being made aware of the issue two years earlier.

In 2009 when Mr Brown was Prime Minister, the MoD’s own scientists refused to analyse material from the site because of the risk it could give them cancer.  Despite this, the MoD continued to resist pressure to pay for a clean-up of the radioactive pollution.

In 2011, the Ministry also continued to play down the possible health risks for members of the public even though official minutes from a meeting in 2009 revealed that MoD scientists had such grave concerns over the contamination that they refused to handle it.

In 2011 after losing the general election, Gordon Brown made a rare appearance in the House of Commons and bizarrely gave a speech calling for a debate on the issue, suggesting the seriousness of the situation was new.

Speaking in front of MPs, Mr Brown said: “I call this debate for one purpose and one purpose only, to persuade the Ministry of Defence of the need for urgent action in an area in my constituency where radioactive materials have been discovered.”

The naming of the MoD as the culprit follows years of investigation work carried out by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).  According to SEPA, the area around the bay was contaminated by radioactive material caused by the dumping of components from old World War 2 aircraft.

Concerns for the Fife beach rose after hundreds of radioactive contaminated fragments were discovered by scientists working for the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency.  Some of the material discovered was been described as being so radioactive that it would cause burns if touched.
 
The Dalgety Bay discoveries were made after the MoD had conducted a survey of the area in September 2011, discovering only 33 radioactive fragments.  SEPA scientists carried out their own survey and discovered over four hundred contaminated fragments, some 76 times more radioactive than the previous discoveries.

In November 2011, the MoD refused to accept responsibility for the contamination, something condemned by SNP MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife Annabelle Ewing. 

In December 2011, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the MoD’s failure to act was “entirely unacceptable”.  Ms Sturgeon also revealed that the Cabinet Secretary for rural affairs and the environment Richard Lochhead had already written twice to the UK Secretary of State for defence urging the MOD to take immediate action, but had receive no reply.

In 2012, Annabelle Ewing also revealed how Westminster knew of the contamination half a century ago, but kept the revelations secret.

Responding to reports that the MoD was still trying to get out of its obligation to clean up radiation at Dalgety Bay, Ms Ewing said:

“Local residents of Dalgety Bay and Fifers from across the Kingdom have been waiting decades for this mess to be cleaned up.

“A SEPA investigation last year found the MoD were solely responsible for the contamination.  Any suggestion from the MoD that this matter can be resolved via fences and warning signs is an insult to both local people and all who care about Scotland’s environment. 

“There can be no more excuses from the MoD – they need to fund and carry out a clean-up at Dalgety Bay immediately.”