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Work to clean up radioactive beach delayed by landowners

Thousands of radioactive particles have been found on the shore at Dalgety Bay since 1990.

Dalgety Bay: The beach clean-up has been delayed.
Dalgety Bay: The beach clean-up has been delayed. © STV

A clean-up operation to deal with radioactive contamination at a Fife beach is being held up by local landowners.

Thousands of radioactive particles have been found on the shore at Dalgety Bay since 1990.

The objects are believed to come from eroded landfill that contains debris from Second World War aircraft that originally had radium dials.

In 2013, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) concluded that the contamination was caused by the actions of the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The clean-up work was expected to start next April, however at the South & West Fife Area Committee meeting on Wednesday, councillors were told by the MoD that local stakeholders were delaying the project.

Stephen Ritchie told councillors: "We actually have had cabinet approval, ministerial approval - we have all the funding we need and authority to proceed.

"However, the local stakeholders are dragging their feet.

"We can't get on the land to clean up the waste without the landowners' permission.

"There are four stakeholders for the area - one of which is the Crown, which is obviously not an issue. However, the other three have been dragging their feet."

Mr Ritchie told councillors that the MoD were looking to award the contract to a company to remove the waste by December 13, but if talks continued to stall, they could miss their window and the project would be delayed, meaning that the clean-up might not be able to happen in 2020.

Mr Ritchie said: "The company will start on-site work in April, and need those 13/ 14 weeks in winter to get the site set up and get their license from SEPA.

"If we miss that December 13 deadline, the contract won't be awarded until after Christmas and that's three or four weeks we've lost."

He also warned that if there is a change of government in the December 12 election, the contract could be recalled for a review.

Cllr David Barratt asked if the local stakeholders were aware of these time constraints.

Mr Ritchie responded: "The other three are aware and have been told the implications. They know the implications are severe but it doesn't seem to be cutting it.

"Far be it for me to say that they're using the time constraints as leverage, but we are paying for all reasonable costs to the stakeholders during the clean-up.

"We are trying to get them to the table for talks but there just seems to be no sense of urgency."

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