MoD failure on Dalgety Bay contamination branded “entirely unacceptable” by Scottish government


By a Newsnet reporter
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister has condemned the lack of action by the MoD over the radioactive contamination at Dalgety Bay.
Nicola Sturgeon called the situation “entirely unacceptable” when the matter was raised at today’s First Ministers Questions at Holyrood.

Standing in for First Minister Alex Salmond who is on a trade mission to China, Ms Sturgeon demanded that the UK Government take immediate action to detail their plans and resolve the radioactive particle pollution hazard at the Fife beach.

Responding to a question on the issue from local MSP Annabelle Ewing who has consistently called for the MoD to admit liability and clean up the contamination, the Deputy First Minister expressed the SNP governments concerns at the lack of communication by the MoD.

Ms Sturgeon said the MoD’s failure to act was “entirely unacceptable” adding “SEPA have made clear that the MOD is responsible for radioactive material present at Dalgety Bay.”

Ms Sturgeon 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 has yet to receive a reply.

Ms Sturgeon added:

“No reply has yet been received and it is vital that the MOD respond without any further delay with a credible plan for how they will act to address this situation.”

Annabelle Ewing, SNP MSP for Mid-Scotland and Fife, added:

“This is real head in the sand stuff from the MoD.  Getting to the root of this hazard must be the first priority.

“The MoD must take responsibility for its role in this and accept its obligation to deliver a new plan now to remove all sources of contamination”

Concerns for the Fife beach have risen after hundreds of radioactive contaminated fragments were discovered by scientists working for the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

Some of the material discovered has 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, 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.  SEPA’s radioactive specialist Dr Paul Dale said he had doubts over the MoD survey.

The Ministry of Defence has been avoiding dealing with the clean-up of pollution from old military planes for over 20 years and is reported to have played down possible health effects for members of the public, despite official minutes from a meeting in 2009 that revealed MoD scientists had serious concerns over the contamination.

The Fife beauty spot will become the first designated Radioactive Contaminated Land area in Scotland if a solution is not found, SEPA have warned.