Dalgety Bay is located on the north side of the Forth Estuary in
Radioactive material was first detected on a part of the
foreshore at Dalgety Bay in 1990. Monitoring has been undertaken by
both SEPA and the Ministry of Defence and periodically radioactive
material has been removed. It is thought that the contamination
originates from the residue of radium coated instrument panels from
military aircraft incinerated and land-filled in the area at end of
World War II.
The radium used by the MoD was primarily in luminescent paints.
Radium based luminescent paint was typically made by mixing a
radium salt, zinc sulphide and a carrier material (typically
varnish or lacquer).
Many surveys have been undertaken on the beach to determine the
potential numbers of items present and possible implications for
public health. SEPA has undertaken a number of recent monitoring
and assessment exercises at Dalgety Bay and these can be viewed on
the Dalgety Bay reports page on our
website, this includes the 2013 Risk
Below are data for the sources SEPA recovered from Dalgety
Bay between September 2011 and December
SEPA only periodically undertakes monitoring and
removal of sources on the beach, it is the MOD's programme which
monitors and recovers sources each month from the whole of the
affected area which are in addition to these sources.
The sampling and analysis of shellfish from
Dalgety Bay started in February 2012 and was concluded in February
2013. Cockles, winkles and mussels were collected from a
number of locations within the bay initially on a monthly basis
followed by a combination of monthly and quarterly monitoring
(subject to sample availability). The samples were analysed
for Ra-226. Since the conclusion of the sampling and analysis
of the shellfish, monitoring of the shellfish beds has been
undertaken and no particles have been detected within the beds to
The total number of radioactive sources (particles) that have
now been recovered since the beginning of our investigation in
September 2011 is significantly greater than 1,000. Of these
sources, to date, five had a radioactivity content of greater than
1 MBq of Radium-226 (1 Mega Becquerel = 1,000,000 Bq). Four of
these sources were located in the area which is currently cordoned
off and the fifth on an area in front of the headland which is only
accessible at low tide.
Currently, the MoD is undertaking a programme of investigation
to determine the extent and magnitude of the contamination at
Dalgety Bay. This investigation forms part of our
inspection of the land under the Radioactive Contaminated Land
(Scotland) Regulations 2007 and will lead to the development of
remediation options. The potential range of options are detailed in
a report from DIO which is available here.
From those options, we will determine the most appropriate
remediation plan. In the meantime, the MoD continues a
programme of monthly monitoring and retrieval in the affected area
at Dalgety Bay. We have oversight of this programme and
undertaken periodic checks to ensure its effectiveness. The
detection and removal of radioactive particles close to the surface
of the land reduces the possibility of a member of the public
coming into contact with these particles. However, we urge the
public to continue to follow the advice on signs at the site –
don’t remove anything from the beach and wash your hands upon
leaving the area.
August 2014 Update
Ongoing monitoring and recovery is still being undertaken and
will be ongoing at the foreshore at Dalgety Bay which is lowering
the risks to the public.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has committed to an investigation
to determine the optimal long term management arrangements at
Dalgety Bay. To inform the work that the MoD is undertaking
and to assist SEPA in assessing any options coming forward SEPA
sought the advice from Public Health England (PHE) on the
acceptable levels of contamination on the beach at which the
current mitigation actions (including: monitoring; demarcation; and
signage) would no longer be required. PHE provided that
to SEPA on 10 April 2014 which we have
shared with the MoD.
This advice has been taken into account within the Management
Strategy document published by the
MoD on 10th July identifying the proposed remedial works to be
undertaken at the site. Calum MacDonald, Executive Director
of SEPA said:
"The proposed works outlined by MoD provide a long term solution
to the radium contamination of Dalgety Bay which if successful will
allow the public to use the entire area again in an unrestricted
"We welcome the proposals and will continue to work with MoD,
Fife Council and other partners as detailed plans for the works are
developed and implemented.
"If these works are completed successfully SEPA considers that
this will allow the closure of this long running issue".
Discussions are ongoing with the involved parties to progress
the detail of the proposed option.
Further information from NHS Fife
Standards Agency in Scotland
In this section of the website you can find information on: