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Balfour Beatty: Building a Better Future in Dalgety Bay

Posted: 17th June 2021

Balfour Beatty is delighted to have been awarded the contract to undertake remediation works at Dalgety Bay which will remove radioactive particles from the beach.

The remediation plan, to which the MOD has agreed voluntarily, involves the removal of contaminated particles from the beach through a screening process, the installation of geotextile materials and a rock barrier to prevent any further particles resurfacing and the reinstatement of suitable material back to the bay area.

Alongside the remediation works, Balfour Beatty will construct a replacement jetty and slipway for use by the Dalgety Bay Sailing Club.

Balfour Beatty will also work closely with the local community to create a diverse and bespoke social impact plan. This will focus on educational engagement and look to provide opportunities in employment, skills development and volunteering. Our Community Investment Team are already working with the community to identify further opportunities in the Fife local authority area.

The team will be engaging with local organisations and trusts, schools and colleges as well as working with Developing the Young Workforce in Fife. The aim is to leave a positive legacy and deliver meaningful and measurable change for the surrounding communities.

The site at Dalgety Bay held a long-standing relationship with the armed forces with Donibristle serving as a Royal Naval Air Service airfield during the First World War. Subsequently, the site was used as an aircraft repair depot before being repurposed as a Royal Air Force (RAF) training base. The base remained in use until the beginning of the Second World War in 1939 when it became an aircraft repair yard, HMS Merlin. It continued to be used by the RAF until 1959 when it was decommissioned.

Rosyth Naval Base conducted routine monitoring on the site which led, in 1990, to the discovery of sources of radium-226 on the beach. Radium-226 was once considered a useful component in the manufacture of luminescent paint. This paint was used for a number of applications including watches, clocks and aircraft instrument panels as it meant these could be read in the dark.

At that time, the recognised practice for disposing of luminescent paint was to burn the material and bury the ashes, this was done in line with the requirements of the day This is considered the potential source for the particles which have been identified at Dalgety Bay. Local residents have been understandably concerned about the presence of these materials on the beach at Dalgety Bay.

This project directly relates to Balfour Beatty’s sustainability strategy, Building Better Futures, in which we are fully committed to reducing our environmental footprint and having a positive, sustainable impact wherever we work. Across the UK, US and Hong Kong, our Strategy sets firm 2030 targets and outlines our 2040 ambitions to go Beyond Net Zero Carbon, to Generate Zero Waste and to Positively Impact More than 1 Million People in line with our guiding imperative to “think global, act local”. That is why our social impact plan focusses on putting people and the environment at the centre of everything we do.

The works at Dalgety Bay will involve the removal of around 9,000m3 of material from the beach area to be screened, before being replaced. To ensure the material is thoroughly cleansed, 4,500m3 of this material will be removed in 5m2 cells. While the material is removed from the beach, the team will first lay approximately 10,000m2 of geotextile along the shore then cover this with 33,000t of rock armour.

The work will take place over two summer periods between April and September in order to protect wading bird species who overwinter at Dalgety Bay.

During the planning of the works, a desktop study was completed to look at how materials would be imported to the site. The use of road wagons was assessed and would have led to around 2,650 round trips over the construction period – around 22 vehicle movement per day. To mitigate disruption to local residents and reduce the projects carbon footprint, the project will instead make use of its coastal locations and utilise barges to deliver material by sea.

Each barge is expected to deliver approximately 500t of materials and it is expected that there will be in excess of 100 trips to deliver the rock armour, bed material and precast concrete required. The barges will be floated into the bay at high tide, allowed to sink to the beach as the tide recedes and then be offloaded at low tide on to the beach with materials being moved to worksite adjacent stockpiles.

In addition to the foreshore works, we are also required to demolish and replace existing sailing club slipways and jetty and replace with new structures. To achieve this, Balfour Beatty have set up a pre-casting yard in Inverkeithing to produce the required precast concrete units. Building these structures will involve in the region of 1,900 individual precast sections, varying in size from 3t to 13t in weight.

The site in Inverkeithing is located within Cruicks Quarry which has a loading jetty available which we will use to load all pre-cast concrete sections and aggregates to the barges for transport to site. We will also transport most of the plant equipment to site from Burntisland, also by barge. By using the quarry at Inverkeithing, we will reduce disruption to residents and road users, reduce the carbon footprint of the project and provide economic growth for the local community.

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