THE controversy over radium deposits on a Fife beach has re-emerged following reports that radioactive levels 10,000 times higher than normal have been recorded.

Radiation expert Arthur Moan was commissioned to carry out research into radiation levels at Dalgety Bay, on the Firth of Forth between Dunfermline and Burntisland.

The area was used as a post-war dumping ground for thousands of burnt aircraft dials painted with luminous radium.

The National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) found 500 radioactive particles on the beach five years ago. It was claimed the risk to the public was insignificant but public health leaders later recommended the monitoring of all child leukemia cases in the area because of radiation fears.

Three months ago, the Scottish Office agreed that the NRPB should be extended for more detailed investigation. The results are due to be published in April.

Mr Moan, a senior analyst at the Lothian Regional Analysts Laboratory, found several radiation ``hot-spots'' with a Geiger counter in a snapshot survey of a section of the beach. He was commissioned by the BBC documentary Here and Now, due to be screened tonight at 7.30pm.

The counter measured radiation levels ranging from 50 to 500 times the normal level. When taken back to the laboratory and tested with more sophisticated equipment, the highest sample showed 10,000 times higher than normal background readings.

Mr Moan says the sample ``still glows in the dark''. He claims that, if someone had picked it up, within an hour they would have been exposed to the maximum radiation dose permitted for a year. He adds that walking past the sample would expose someone to 10 times the normal background level.

He says: ``The radiation which is coming off that is far stronger than I have ever picked up.''

Mr John Large, an independent consultant nuclear engineer, adds: ``A public beach that contains radioactivity of that sort of level really should be closed to the public and decontaminated.''

Mr Colin McPhail, chairman of Dalgety Bay Community Council, said yesterday there should be a new survey to establish finally if there is a radiation problem.

He said high tides and strong easterly winds this winter had caused severe erosion of the beach. Mr McPhail added that the Scottish Office survey would not take into account sand which had been below the surface and was now exposed.

He said reports of massive radiation levels added weight to arguments for a further study.

He said: ``We have to find out once and for all if there is a problem. The physical condition of the beach has changed over the winter and it would be a great concern to us if these figures were accurate.''

Local councillor Rhona White said she would raise the matter with the appropriate Government authorities if the radiation levels were confirmed.

A Scottish Office spokesman said Mr Moan would be approached to pass on the results of his tests. It is understood that no previous or current work has recorded radiation levels on the scale he claims were measured.

The current study is being carried out by Aberdeen University for the Industrial Pollution Inspectorate.