New radium pollution hotspots beyond Dalgety Bay uncovered

More radium contaminated sites have been found around Scotland

The Ministry of Defence has been accused of being ‘evasive and shifty’, after it has emerged that sites containing radioactive pollution go beyond Dalgety Bay in Fife.

Three more military sites in Scotland are contaminated with the potentially lethal radiation, a freedom of information request has revealed.

RAF Kinloss in Moray as well as the former RAF Machinrihanish base in Argyll and the former Defence Aviation Repair factory near Perth also have problems with radium, a radioactive substance.

It is understood that a fifth site, former military land at Stirling Forthside, has now been decontaminated successfully.

Most of the contamination is from radium sulphate paint, which was used in parts such as aircraft instrument panels.

The new information reveals officials produced a report in secret last year which identified 13 radium hotspots around the UK.

Scrapped aircraft parts are thought to have been buried at some of the sites.

The SNP has hit out at the Ministry of Defence for failing to take responsibility to clean up the contamination in Dalgety Bay.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon last week said it was ‘entirely unacceptable’ that the MoD had failed to respond to calls to come up with a plan for the cleanup.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown also weighed into the row, saying he didn’t want the picturesque shoreline to have the stigma of being a recognised radioactively contaminated site.

More than 200 radium particles were found on Dalgety Bay’s beach this autumn, far more than was previously recorded.

The party’s UK environment spokesman, Mike Weir MP, reacted angrily to the new information after he asked the defence minister in October to list all locations where radium had been buried.

The minister, Andrew Robathan, failed to do so and only said the pollution posed a ‘relatively low risk to human health and the wider environment.’

Commenting, Mike Weir said: “Given the failure of the MoD to take responsibility for the contamination at Dalgety Bay, it is clearly worrying that other locations where soil polluted by radium have been identified.

“The behaviour of the Ministry of Defence has been evasive and shifty, with Ministers refusing to provide the information that has now emerged from an FOI request to the Defence Infrastructure Organisation.

“We now need total transparency as well as immediate action to clean up any hazard that exists to public health.

“The communities that are affected deserve total transparency and the Ministry of Defence must accept its clear responsibility to establish the facts and take action clean up any contamination.”

Labour MP Paul Flyn also raised questions over the issue in Parliament.

He said: “People are prone to be overanxious about radioactivity. They are going to be very suspicious if they assume something is being hidden from them.”

RAF Kinloss recently closed as an air base, but will become an Army base with nearly 1000 personnel by next summer.

The former RAF Machrihanish, near the Mull of Kintyre, is set to be turned into workplaces and housing for locals.