2011-10-14 (Day 413) Cordoned Off

I work in Dalgety Bay, in Fife, Scotland.

Dalgety Bay is a moderately up-market town, housing around 10,000 souls and located on the north side of the River Forth. At this point, the rive is over a mile wide, so going to the waterside really does feel as if you’re at the seaside. It’s a lovely town, with some beautiful houses, shops, offiecs etc and of course the proximity to the water, that just does something to make me feel good.

However, the town also has a small problem.

During the second world war, there was no town in Dalgety Bay. Instead, there were various military facilities, along with a small factory where aircraft instrumentation was built. In order that the pilots could see the instruments at night, the important features were picked out with luminous paint. That luminosity came from radioactive radium.

Well, after the war, the demand for such equipment faded and the factory was closed. All its supplies were buried or thrown into the river, and the town was built. Now, every so often, some of that equipment bubles up to the surface, and shows itself as radioactive particles.

Yesterday, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency said that a routine inspection of the beach had discovered a particle that was emitting 10 MegaBecquerels… that is ten million nuclear decays per second. Which sounds like a lot, but I suspect is in fact very little.

It was enough to set the media into a feeding frenzy, though, and the papers described the beach as being "cordoned off".

And that’s where today’s picture comes in.

Here’s the beach. Here’s the public notice describing the problem. Yes, it’s a single laser-printed page, laminated and stuck onto a piece of board.

And don’t you like the cordoning off? A few spikes stuck in the ground, a little bit of plastic tape, whivh is tied off on a rusting old boat trailer in the nearby grounds of the Dalgety Bay Sailing Club.

Actually, I rather like the understatement, but could do without the media screaming about the horrors of it all…

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