HC Deb 05 December 1961 vol 650 cc1112-3
4. Commander Kerans

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what investigations his Department have undertaken in the matter of eradication of strontium 90 from dried and natural milk, which can now be made to the extent of over 90 per cent.

Mr. Denzil Freeth

The removal of strontium 90 from milk has been investigated by the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, and the National Institute for Research in Dairying near Reading. Contact is also being maintained with developments in other countries, particularly the United States of America.

Commander Kerans

Will not my hon. Friend agree that scientists in the U.S.A. have now produced a method whereby over 90 per cent. of strontium 90 can be eradicated? If this country can adopt it as an economic process, and I am told that it is an economic process, would not it go a long way to allay the anxiety of young mothers?

Mr. Freeth

I understand that the eradication of stronium 90 from milk by the ion exchange process has been demonstrated on a laboratory scale with extremely high initial levels of contamination. We shall need other and further investigations in order to determine whether similar success would be obtained in practical large-scale processes with the lower levels of contamination which might result from nuclear weapon tests.

Mr. Snow

Can the Parliamentary Secretary say what are the other radioactive elements against which protection has to be sought?

Mr. Freeth

The Question referred to strontium 90. I should not like to give answers off the cuff to questions about eradicating other radioactive isotopes.

7. Mrs. Castle

asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what steps he is taking to ensure that any increased contamination of United Kingdom food supplies by strontium 90 is immediately detected.

Mr. Denzil Freeth

The monitoring survey maintained since 1958 by the Agricultural Research Council in consultation with the Medical Research Council is designed to achieve this.

Mrs. Castle

is the Parliamentary Secretary aware that scientists of the Blackburn Technical College are collaborating with the Fylde water board in monitoring the level of radioactivity in local water supplies and in the atmosphere? Does not he think that it would help to give reassurance to the public about this very serious danger if every local water authority and local technical college were encouraged to undertake a similar monitoring service?

Mr. Freeth

Monitoring services with regard to radioactivity in the air, rainfall and drinking water are the responsibility of the Atomic Energy Authority and the results are published as often as the Authority deems it necessary in the public interest.

Mrs. Slater

is the hon. Gentleman aware that some local authorities are doing this with their water supplies and that in north Staffordshire there have been alarming results regarding the difference between reservoirs and underwater springs? Does not he think it important that local water boards should be encouraged to do this?

Mr. Freeth

I will look into the matter further, but I must take the advice of my experts on the subject.

Forward to