SEPA statement regarding Dalgety Bay debate

date16 March 2012

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is aware of the Commons debate last night between Gordon Brown MP, and Dr Andrew Murrison, The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence, regarding radioactive contamination at Dalgety Bay.

Calum MacDonald, SEPA Executive Director, said:

I was surprised and disappointed by Dr Murrison’s comment that SEPA has been less than helpful.

“SEPA has worked with the MoD, in partnership, and with various stakeholders and the local community to reach this point in our efforts to tackle the radioactive contamination at Dalgety Bay, and as such the reports we have produced (Risk Assessment and Appropriate Persons) have mirrored the statutory process that would be invoked should the land be designated. Full references, electronic copies and access to hard copy information held at SEPA’s offices have been provided to the MoD’s solicitors.”

In addition to what was said during the debate, the MoD has written to SEPA expressing concerns about our risk assessment report.

As an organisation established to protect and enhance Scotland’s environment and protect human health, SEPA works with sound science and expert knowledge. The evidence used during the assessment of Dalgety Bay, and the approach to our risk assessment, has been endorsed by a number of specialists, including the Dalgety Bay Particles Advisory Group (DBPAG) and the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE).

The Risk Assessment report has established that areas of the foreshore have significant pollutant linkages. The Appropriate Persons report identified the MoD as the Class A persons responsible for these pollutant linkages. We feel that questions around significant harm, and the extent to which the activities of those who controlled the land after the MoD, have been fully addressed in SEPA’s Risk Assessment and Appropriate Persons reports. We have given the MoD full access to information on which the appropriate persons report is based. They have not, as yet, provided us with their response.

SEPA is committed to finding an appropriate solution to the issues facing Dalgety Bay and is meeting the MoD before the end of July to discuss these issues.

Ends

Notes to editors

SEPA attended a meeting of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) today, in which the Committee made five recommendations about the radioactive contamination at Dalgety Bay.:

The recommendations were:

  1. The Committee concluded that on the basis of available data to COMARE, from SEPA and Public Health England, on potential Committed Effective Doses, there are sources of potential harm to the public (at Dalgety Bay).
  2. The continuing programme of demarcation and monitoring was not a long term viable solution.
  3. Remediation should start as quickly as possible,
  4. Monitoring & removal of radioactive sources should continue at a frequency and area determined by the Regulator, but this should be to at least current levels,
  5. A list should be formed of all Radium-226 sites across the UK.

Additionally, SEPA has also received a letter from Public Health England (PHE) which stated that “we agree that Radium 226 contaminated objects recovered from Dalgety Bay include objects that could give rise to radiation doses that exceed the relevant criteria for the Radioactive Contaminated Land (Scotland) Regulations 2007”.

COMARE is an independent expert advisory committee with members chosen for their medical and scientific expertise and recruited from Universities, Research and Medical Institutes ( www.comare.org.uk/)

Public Health England was formed in April 2013 and includes the Department formerly known as the Health Protection Agency and is responsible for providing health advice on radiation issues to Government (www.hpa.org.uk/radiation/)