BABCOCK International want to build a paint and blast facility on land at Rosyth contaminated with asbestos, lead and arsenic. 

The site, part of an old dumping ground for everything from medical, surgical and veterinary waste to World War Two ships, is at the western side of Rosyth Dockyard. 

It may even contain unexploded German bombs but it’s been labelled a “risk to human health” because of the materials that have already been found there. 

That includes levels of mercury and zinc that exceed the thresholds for a marine water environment, and elevated concentrations of carbon dioxide, arsenic, lead, nickel, cadmium, mercury, chromium 3 and 6, copper, zinc, boron, phenol and “heavy range” petroleum hydrocarbons. 

But the solution seems to be to just build on top of it and seal it all in with concrete. 

A report by consulting engineers McGregor McMahon and Associates said: “The identified presence of elevated metal concentrations within the shallow made ground soils at the site, as well as the presence of asbestos-containing materials, is such that the risk to human health is identified. 

“However, the complete coverage of the site with hardstanding will effectively block the ingestion, inhalation and ingestion pathways between the identified sources and the human receptors. 

“The identified presence of elevated ground gas concentrations is also considered to present a risk of harm to human health, albeit limited to a low to medium level, given the nature of the proposed structure.”

They added that, as the site is for industrial use, the overall environmental risk is low/medium. 

Babcock have applied for planning permission from Fife Council for the new facility, which would see a steel-framed shed built on the site west of Caledonia Road.

Because of the site history, McGregor McMahon and Associates were asked to investigate the ground conditions of what is the former west tip, currently a concrete area used for storage and car parking. 

It’s understood the site was once part of the Forth estuary but became reclaimed land that was then developed in stages. 

From the 1940s to 1984 it operated as a landfill site with waste materials from ship breaking operations during World War Two and subsequent years dumped there. 

As well as household and “ugly” waste, sawdust, woodchips, bulky scrap materials and lagging, the tip saw medical, surgical and veterinary waste, and asbestos, left on the site. 

The report says it was “used for the disposal of a range of unspecified waste materials” from the dockyard and contains the suggestion that “unspecified chemical drums” were abandoned there.

The report says there is also a risk of finding unexploded bombs, from air raids on the dockyard in wartime, but as the site was reclaimed from the Forth after World War Two it’s considered to be “low level”.

The land underwent “regulatory authority approved capping” in 1985 and was later used as a compound area for the nearby RD57 site. 

That area was to be used for the refitting of Trident nuclear submarines but in what was seen as a political move, the government decided in 1993 that the work would take place at Devonport instead. 

Babcock announced in 2010 their intention to turn the RD57 site into an £85 million international container terminal.