24/Apr/2014 - Last News Update: 22:00

Highly radioactive metal found at Dalgety Bay in Fife

Category: Scotland

Published: 13th Oct 2011 16:48:08

Highly activity radioactive material has been found on a Fife beach which is giving an environmental agency "cause for concern".

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency found the lump of contaminated metal at Dalgety Bay beach on Saturday.

Radium from wartime aircraft is thought to have been in landfill used when the foreshore was reclaimed.

The material is 10 times more radioactive than any material found at the site previously.

The discovery was made during work to trace the radioactive source, which is due to be completed over the next two weeks.

A specialist team removed the material from the beach and took it to a lab for testing on Wednesday.

Dr Paul Dale, Sepa radioactive substances specialist, said the dial on his special monitoring equipment "went off the scale" when he hovered it over the area where the lump of metal was buried in the sand.

He told the BBC Scotland news website: "We have found material which has an infield estimate activity of 10MBq.

"When the detector has an increased count rate you start moving the sand away to see if it gets stronger and on this occasion it gave me cause for concern because it went off the scale.

"We covered the tidal area with bricks and a specialist team removed the material using protective equipment and put it into a specialist container which has lots of shielding.

"It was then taken away to a lab in a van.

"We did not expect to find this.

"We have been monitoring the area in a bid to find the origin of radioactive material that we have been finding at the beach and this was when we found this lump of what looked like melted metal.

"We have asked the council to erect signs warning people not to go onto the beach."

Dalgety Bay was the site of a World War II airfield, where many aircraft were dismantled.

The dials in the planes were coated with radioactive radium so that they could be read at night.

It is thought the dials were incinerated along with other waste and later tipped on the land and used to help reclaim some of the coastline.

Numerous surveys have been carried out on the beach since radiation was first discovered in 1990.

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BBC News, 2011. Highly radioactive metal found at Dalgety Bay in Fife [Online] (Updated 13th Oct 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/193697/Highly-radioactive-metal-found-at-Dalgety-Bay-in-Fife [Accessed 24th Apr 2014]

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