Fife Beach
© Press AssociationA beach in Fife was partially closed off after scientists found highly radioactive material.
Scientists combing a beach where highly radioactive material was found have uncovered more contaminated particles.

Experts are conducting a "systematic clearance" of a stretch of beach in Dalgety Bay in 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, 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 the site will continue to be surveyed over the weekend and could not rule out further discoveries being made. 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.

Dr Paul Dale, Sepa's radioactivity specialist, told the BBC's Reporting Scotland programme: "We'd advise people to follow the advice on the signs, which is to wash their hands when they leave the beach and not to take anything from the beach. If they do that, they should be OK."

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.

Scottish Environment Secretary Richard Lochhead has argued it is the responsibility of the Ministry of Defence to send in the equipment and resources "to clean up this site once and for all".

Speaking about the particle find earlier this week, he told the BBC today: "Small children visit beaches and that's why we have to take a very precautionary approach when any material is found with this level of radioactivity."

An 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."