A clean up project has been announced to get rid of radioactive particles in Dalgety Bay in Fife
An investigation plan to establish how to clean up a beach affected by radioactive particles has been agreed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the environmental watchdog.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) said last month the situation at Dalgety Bay, Fife, was "more complicated than initially believed" and that the research is necessary before "remediation options" can be identified.
Radioactive material was first detected on the foreshore of Dalgety Bay in 1990. The contamination is thought to stem from residue of radium-coated instrument panels used on military aircraft which were incinerated and put in landfill in the area at the end of the Second World War.
A lump of contaminated metal was found on the beach in October last year, prompting the closure of part of the foreshore. Earlier this year Sepa said a draft plan drawn up by the MoD "lacked sufficient detail" with regards to a timescale for implementing each stage.
The MoD's final Dalgety Bay inspection plan has been published by its Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Sepa. The publication was described as "a step forward". Sepa said it expects "remediation action to follow urgently" at the conclusion of the investigation.
The watchdog, which is the responsible authority under the Radioactive Contaminated Land (Scotland) Regulations 2007, has previously said it could designate the beach as an area of Radioactive Contaminated Land. The timescale for the five-stage plan, which includes surveying the area, sampling and analysis, is May 2013.
However, the report states "the intention is to complete each investigation stage as quickly as possible".
Dr James Gemmill, Sepa's radioactive substances unit manager, said: "We have published the MoD's plan on our website so that the community at Dalgety Bay can see what work will be carried out on the beach and the surrounding environment in the coming months, to provide a comprehensive investigation of the entire area."
An MoD spokeswoman said: "The Defence Infrastructure Organisation and Scottish Environment Protection Agency have agreed an investigation plan aimed at tackling the land contamination issues at Dalgety Bay in Fife."
Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead said: "There is still a long way to go before the issues at Dalgety Bay are fully resolved and I will continue to speak with MoD ministers and urge them to keep members of the Dalgety Bay community informed of progress."