Radioactive material found on British beach

Scientists are continuing work at a beach where a lump of contaminated metal was discovered

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Scientists are continuing work at a beach where highly radioactive material was discovered.

Experts are conducting a "systematic clearance" of a 150-metre stretch of beach in Dalgety Bay, Fife, where a lump of contaminated metal was discovered a few days ago. The object was 10 times more contaminated than any found before at the beach.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa) said 17 more particles were discovered yesterday, although the environmental watchdog said the latest finds were not thought to be as significant as those from earlier in the week.

A spokeswoman for Sepa said: "There will be Sepa officers at the beach this weekend continuing their survey and we expect the work will continue into next week."

Laboratory tests on the recovered material will also be carried out in future.

Parts of the beach were closed off after the radiation was discovered, which Sepa said gave "cause for concern". Fife Council cordoned off part of the foreshore, close to the public footpath, and erected warning signs.

Radioactive material was first detected on the foreshore of Dalgety Bay in 1990.

It is thought the contamination originates from the residue of radium-coated instrument panels from military aircraft which were incinerated and land-filled in the area at the end of the Second World War.

Monitoring has been undertaken by both Sepa and the Ministry of Defence, with radioactive material being periodically removed.

Sepa has called for an urgent "long-term remediation plan" to deal with the problem.

A Ministry of Defence (MoD) spokesman said: "MoD has been working with Sepa and the Dalgety Bay Forum to resolve the issues at Dalgety Bay. We have supported Sepa's 2011 headland investigation and continue to support Sepa in disposing of any recovered items.

"The work undertaken to date represents MoD's serious commitment to assisting the Dalgety Bay Forum in finding a longer-term strategy for dealing with the radioactive contamination on the foreshore.

"MoD will continue to work with Sepa, the Scottish Executive and the Dalgety Bay Forum to identify the likelihood of residual risks posed and requirement for any remedial action once the details of the most recent Sepa findings are published.

"Should significant risks present themselves in the interim, Sepa has the necessary statutory powers to address these."