High levels of radioactivity found on Aberdeen beach

A section of beach near Aberdeen has been sealed off from the public after the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) found abnormally high levels of radioactivity in the sand.

SEPA has undertaken an assessment of the health risks to the public and found it is “likely to be negligible.”

The Agency is now monitoring a wider range of the beach to see how far the contamination has spread as well as the source of the material.

No conclusions have yet been made about the source of the material, but SEPA has said it is commonly used in offshore oil drilling equipment.

There is a discharge pipe used by Scotoil, a company that regularly undertakes normally occurring radioactive material – NORM – cleaning operations for the oil drilling industry, very close to the source of contamination.

Discussions over the emissions between SEPA and Scotoil have now begun although SEPA has stressed that at this stage it has insufficient evidence to draw any conclusions about the source of the material.

Production at Scotoil has been halted as a precaution.

SEPA has commissioned the Radiation Protection Division of Health Protection Scotland to undertake further intensive monitoring of the beach to confirm the extent of the contamination.

The general tidal and wave movements on the beach are from north to south. This suggests that the contamination is likely to be confined to the southern end of the beach.

By David Hopkins

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