‘We don’t believe MoD’ say scientists as Dalgety Bay radioactive scandal escalates

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
The growing scandal over the radioactive contamination that is threatening a Fife shoreline escalated today after scientists said they do not believe claims made by the MoD.
 
Concerns for the beach at Dalgety Bay have risen after hundreds of radioactive contaminated fragments were discovered by scientists working for the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA).

By a Newsnet reporter
 
The growing scandal over the radioactive contamination that is threatening a Fife shoreline escalated today after scientists said they do not believe claims made by the MoD.
 
Concerns for the beach at Dalgety Bay 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 contamination has been likened to the radioactive material found on the foreshore – which has now been closed to the public – near the former nuclear plant at Dounreay.
 
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.

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, SEPA’s radioactive specialist Dr Paul Dale said he had doubts over the MoD survey.

Dr Dale said: “We’ve raised our concerns with the MoD and they say it was done competently but because of what we’ve found we’ve no grounds to believe them.  We don’t believe that the MoD’s survey was effective.”

There is growing anger over the failure of the MoD to address the situation and in a recent meeting an MoD spokesman is alleged to have told SEPA representatives that they did not have to inform the press that monitoring had stopped.

In a further development, Fred Dawson, who worked for the MoD for 31 years, told the Sunday Herald that any further work should not be carried out by the MoD as it has “consistently done all it can to avoid admitting liability for the contamination, which in all probability it caused”.

Leading experts have accused the MoD of consistently providing misinformation and of conducting an inadequate investigation.

Dr Andrew Tyler, the head of biological and environmental sciences at Stirling University said: “It is clear that Sepa’s monitoring has been far more effective than that undertaken by the MoD,” he added “The fact that such high activity particles have been missed indicates that the MoD’s monitoring may well have been inadequate and must be reviewed as a matter of priority.”

Commenting on the situation, SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing condemned the Ministry of Defence over its role in the situation.
 
The Mid Scotland and Fife MSP said: “The MoD has consistently failed the people of Dalgety Bay in its handling of this situation.

“How can we trust the MoD to carry out future monitoring of this site when it has repeatedly botched previous attempts to do so?

“It is extremely distressing to hear that monitoring of the site may have been suspended and that what monitoring there has been by the MoD was so inefficient.  How is it SEPA have uncovered such high levels of radioactivity when the MoD couldn’t.  It looks as if the MoD simply didn’t look properly because it didn’t want to find anything.

“My main concern is the health and safety of people in Fife – but what is the priority of the MoD?

“We need serious action immediately as further delays will only cause misery.  The MoD must take their role seriously, deliver a clean-up plan and restore the safety of Dalegty Bay.”

The scale of the radioactive contamination has also led to calls by former PM Gordon Brown for the MoD to clean up the area.

Mr Brown put in a rare appearance at the House of Commons last week when he spoke at a debate called to discuss the response of the Ministry of Defence to the contamination of the area which is in his Fife constituency.

However Mr Brown faced calls to explain why he had done nothing to address the contamination when he was PM.  In 2009 when Mr Brown was Prime Minister, the MoD’s own scientists refused to analyse particles 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. 

The Ministry has 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.