Moray MP calls for meeting with UK Defence Secretary over Kinloss waste fears


By a Newsnet reporter
Revelations that the land surrounding the former RAF base at Kinloss may be contaminated with chemical weapons has prompted the local MP to demand a meeting with the UK Defence Secretary.
Angus Robertson MP for Moray has called for a meeting with defence secretary Philip Hammond to discuss reports of waste at the Kinloss base.

The news that sulphur mustard, commonly known as mustard gas, may have been buried in land sold privately by the MoD was broken by BBC Scotland’s David Miller.

Mr Miller has revealed that documents obtained by the BBC indicate that authorities at the base were aware in 2004 that chemical weapons waste may have contaminated the surrounding land.

The agent can cause severe burns and blisters to the skin, it will destroy body tissue.  Mustard gas is also known to cause cancer.  The documents warn that the chemical, which usually breaks down readily, can persist in damp soil and can be released if the soil is disturbed.

Mr Miller also revealed that the documents confirmed “a number of anomalies” present within land at the base that had not yet been investigated due to “heavy gorse cover”.

Mr Robertson said that these new reports, coupled with earlier investigations confirming radioactive contamination at Dalgety Bay, raised questions relating to possible dangers at the base.

He said: “Given reports of radioactive material at Dalgety Bay, it is important that we understand the situation at Kinloss.

“This is why I’m requesting a meeting with the defence secretary Philip Hammond.

“It is important that there is as much transparency as possible from the Ministry of Defence.”

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “Our investigations to date suggest there is no indication of significant risk to public health or the environment associated with the past storage or disposal of chemical weapon agents in the UK.

“Work undertaken indicates the sites are suitable for their current use, provided that any management systems, restrictions or procedures remain in place.

“We consider protection of human health and the environment to be very important, and if we identify threats to either we inform the regulatory authorities and public as soon as possible ensuring the necessary management measures are put in place.”

The possibility of chemical weapon waste at Kinloss comes only days after it emerged six locations in Scotland had been confirmed as being contaminated with radioactive radium.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency are currently investigating another three un-named locations also suspected of having been contaminated by radium.