The long-overdue removal of toxic waste from Dalgety Bay beach is at risk of being delayed yet again after it emerged that applications have yet to be made for the required clean-up permits.
Ministry of Defence representatives had told councillors at a meeting of the South West Fife Area committee that the much anticipated removal operation was “progressing in general terms” with appointed contractor, Balfour Beatty set to start work at the site in earnest next month.
However, during the progress report given to councillors, Dr Paul Dale, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency’s (SEPA) radioactive substances specialist, revealed the agency had still not received any of the required paperwork from the MoD.
Furthermore, he said that processing the application once the required application had been received could take as long as four months to process.
The stretch of Fife coastline remains fenced off after it was found to be contaminated with hazardous radium from scrapped aircraft instrument panels.
It’s the latest twist in the 11-year saga to rid the beach of the radioactive contamination which has now left local politicians fearing further delays.
Dr Dale confirmed that meetings continued with the contractor to help with finalising the required paperwork but that no permit application had yet been received.
“We’re engaging with Balfour Beatty on a fortnightly basis to see where they are and help them to progress the necessary paperwork so we can determine their application as expediently as possible,” said Dr Dale.
Work on the £10.5 million project to remove radioactive material from the beach was planned to start in Sprint 2020, but was then delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
Stephen Ritchie, project manager at the MoD’s defence infrastructure organisation division, said: “In general terms the project is moving forward.
“Balfour Beatty has established a facility at Inverkeithing where it has set up a pre-cast concrete production facility.
“You’ll have seen very little happening on the ground, but over the next while, there will be boats disappearing, cabins arriving, fences going up and the general feel of Dalgety Bay Sailing Club will be one of a construction site.
“Things are moving forward as planned.”
Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP Neale Hanvey, said he was “furious” after hearing the clean-up operation could yet again be stalled.
“Here we are once again with promises being made by the MoD only for it to emerge that crucial steps haven’t been taken to finally begin the clean-up,” said Mr Hanvey.
“After the same issue stopped work going ahead last summer, I demanded a meeting with Jeremy Quin MP, Minister for Defence Procurement. He assured me the relevant licences had been applied for to allow the work to go ahead in spring this year.
“The MoD would like us to believe that it is everyone’s fault but theirs.
“I will write again to the minister to make it absolutely clear that the people of Dalgety Bay have been sidelined for too long.”