The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) have published plans to further investigate the radioactive contamination of Dalgety Bay in Fife ahead of remediation action.
Radioactive particles have been found in the area, the site of a former wartime airfield, since the 1990s, and last November part of the beach was closed after an object measuring 10 megabecquerels – a measure of radiation – was discovered.
At the time, SEPA set deadlines for the MoD to provide a credible remediation plan to prevent the need to designate Dalgety Bay as radioactive contaminated land, the first such designation in the UK.
Work by the Scottish regulator subsequently revealed that the situation at the beach was more complicated than initially believed, and more investigation was required.
The headland area where radioactive particles have been discovered is reclaimed land using waste materials following the decommissioning of the airfield. The additional investigative work should be completed by May 2013.
“SEPA should then be in full possession of all technical issues, including dumping areas and the distribution of the hazard posed by radioactive contamination, together with ownership history and therefore the responsible party or parties,” said the regulator’s radioactive substances unit manager, Dr James Gemmill.
He expects remediation to start once the investigation is complete, as the next 12 months will also be used to review options to decontaminate the area.
The MoD has confirmed that if it is found to be a responsible party the ministry will work with SEPA to carry out voluntary remediation where appropriate.