• November 10, 2015


The personal column OUTSIDE LEFT I write for Isle of Man Newspapers (Manx Independent) this week was about Sellafield and John Dunster it was entitled Radiation Guinea Pigs (although the title I submitted was ‘The Experiment’).

In the comments section under the article one contributor posted a link to a ‘Secret Scotland’ article about Beauforts Dyke just a few miles north of the Point of Ayre.

I’m always grateful for positive feedback but in this instance I was well aware of the Beaufort Dyke and the dumping there of all manner of waste from munitions and chemical weapons to nuclear and commercial waste.

In fact the Celtic League first started making enquiries about the Dyke (a long undersea trench about 15 miles long by 7 miles wide) in the early 1980s. We had heard reports about muntions dumping in the 1940/50s which continued up until the late 1970s.

Over the next 15 years we engaged in an ongoing correspondence with the MOD and other agencies and by 1996 when the UK finally ‘came clean’ about the extent of sea dumped munitions we had amassed quite a file.

Indeed our file was so comprehensive that eventually a copy was sought, and given to, the Irish Governments Department of the Marine who throughout the late 1990s pressed the UK government on the issue. The original file is now lodged (open access) in the Manx Museum Library.

Of course we had no idea when we started our enquiries almost forty years ago that eventually it would be revealed that a staggering one million tonnes of munitions had been dumped and in addition to Beaufort Dyke another 22 sites around the British Isles were polluted (including the Holyhead Deep to the SE of the IOM which also contains radiation waste).

The sheer scale of the dumping means that little can now be done to rectify matters and the best course of action was determined to be to leave the munitions, chemical agents and nuclear waste undisturbed.

Occasionally we get reminders of the menace lurking in the dyke when munitions wash ashore. Some years ago when work was going on to extend an electricity interconnector from Scotland to N Ireland quantities of phosphorous based munitions were washed ashore. For the most part they caused little damage but two members of the public (in Scotland and N Ireland) were injured.

A more graphic description of the very nasty effects that some of the items can cause is in the book by (the late) Angela Kneale ‘FISH AND SHIPS’. Angela acted as honorary consul here for the French Government and dealt with any problems that French fishing vessels encountered in the Irish Sea. Her book details graphically the effect of mustard gas brought up in the nets of vessel fishing near the Dyke – one of the crew men was very badly injured.

Beauforts Dyke is another legacy of British government thoughtlessness. Unlike Sellafield, a visible scar, the bombs of Beaufort Dyke are out of sight many fathoms under the sea. They do however still pose a danger and will do so for many decades.

Note: For further background and some graphics go to the Celtic League archive at this link:


The old archive link is at the very top of the page it’s a comprehensive pdf file entitled Celtic League News Archive 1997 to 2002 if you open search and type in ‘Beaufort’ it will take you to the file.

Issued by: The Celtic News



The Celtic League established in 1961 has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It promotes cooperation between the countries and campaigns on a range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, military activity and socio-economic issues


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