HC Deb 13 May 1957 vol 570 cc5-6
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.

Mr. Amory

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.

Mr. Gower

Is it possible for my right hon. Friend to say whether this high incidence in Wales is the result of tests carried out in Russia or of the tests carried out in the Pacific by the Americans?

Mr. Amory

No. That would be quite outside my Department.

Dr. Stross

The Minister used the words "somewhat higher" for these 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?

Mr. Amory

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?

Mr. Amory

As an example, I am hoping to visit Wales myself during the Whitsun Recess.