Monday, 1 July 2013

Wig Bay another Dalgety Bay?

SEPA has identified the Ministry of Defence as the "appropriate person" responsible for the radioactive contamination of  the beach and foreshore at Dalgety Bay in Fife.

However it is clear from press reports that the MOD still continues to resist admitting any degree of liability by challenging SEPAs'  competence and evidence

"The MoD said it would consider the report findings in detail and respond to SEPA in due course. However, it said it had concerns over the "adequacy and validity" of both SEPA's risk assessment and its approach to the Appropriate Persons Report. A spokesman said: "We will seek an early meeting with SEPA at senior official level to raise these concerns and discuss the way forward."  Full report

I feel that MOD in denying liability, that this has resulted in a long drawn out expensive process at the end of which the MOD will be found to be liable and suffer significant reputational damage.

I suspect Defence Estates fear that admitting liability in the case of Dalgety Bay would  set a precedent for the hundreds of other sites where there is the potential for radium and other contamination; the liability running into many millions of pounds.

An example of similar coastal site in Scotland site potentially contaminated with Radium, is the former seaplane base at Wig Bay Loch Ryan. 

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland  shows that the former seaplane base at Wig Bay was used  to "break up aircraft" which in all probability contained significant quantities of radium luminised instruments etc.

Google earth shows that some of the old hard standing is now used as a car park complete with interpretation boards and open access to the beach and foreshore.

In response to a FOI request the MOD said:-
"You requested information about what subsequently happened to the radium dials that were in the flying boats which were scrapped and dismantled at Wig Bay in Loch Ryan SW Scotland.

A search of the MOD archives has not identified any material on this subject. Any documentation that has survived will be held by the National Archives at Kew."

reference 1

Image showing numerous aircraft at Wig Bay
View of the site today from the main road showing car park etc
RAF Pulham  where the  MOD held no records about radium contamination,  but where radium contamination has been confirmed.  The MOD has rejected responsibility in this case by saying

"I am advised that former sites such as this fall within the statutory responsibility of the Local authority to inspect the land in its area and identify any contaminated land. It is therefore suggested that any evidence of contamination you have should be brought to the attention of the Local Authority “

This effectively shuffles off any responsibility to identify contaminated land that the MOD once owned or controlled to the Local Authorities.
Local Authorities are very unlikely to hold any information about these sites and therefore are unlikely to have the means to identify whether or not such land is contaminated. 

RAF Kinloss provides yet another example of historic radium contamination and the need to ensure records are kept

Reference 1

"The Military Airfields of Britain, Scotland and Northern Island". Ken Delve, Crowood Press Ltd 2010, page 298 Wig Bay Stranraer
ISBN 978-1-84797-027-5
Ariel View

Overlay showing taxiways etc

1 comment:

  1. Hi Fred,

    It is people like you that keep the government in check. Please keep at it.
    Eventually personal attitudes will change & it will be because of people like you. All the best. Janice