§ 8. Mr. T. W. Jones
asked the Minister of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food the nature of the tests carried out by his Department to trace the incidence of strontium 90 in Wales;and whether he will make a statement.
In 1954 and 1955, tests by the Atomic Energy Research Establishment of samples of soil and herbage from Suffolk and Wales disclosed the presence of small quantities of strontium 90, with a slightly higher concentration in Wales and an apparent tendency for the concentration in all areas to increase. In 1956, therefore, six representative sampling areas were chosen, of which two were on high ground in Wales and two on high ground in England. In 1957, two further sites in Scotland will be used.
Tests of samples obtained from these sites by my Department have tended to confirm the earlier findings, but the highest concentrations so far observed by the Atomic Energy Research Establishment in any area do not, I am advised, show signs of approaching levels which might give cause for anxiety about possible harm to the health of animals or human beings. The tests are continuing.
I am advised that the somewhat higher concentration observed in upland areas is believed to be due to high rainfall and low concentration of calcium in the soil.
§ Dr. Stross
The Minister used the words "somewhat higher" for these 6 upland areas in Wales. Is he aware that by that term, according. I think, to the Medical Research Council, is meant many times the average;and that, in fact, in the bones of these sheep it is ten times as high as in the bones of sheep elsewhere in the country;and that it may well be that "somewhat higher" means fifty times as high as the average?
I am not sure of the exact percentages, but I think the important point is that the highest level they have yet found in upland areas—the hills and mountains—is still enormously below the danger point.
§ Sir P. Agnew
Could my right hon. Friend assure the House that the deposits of strontium 90 are not so great that tourists ought to be warned against visiting Wales during the holiday season?