HC Deb 22 June 1972 vol 839 cc694-5
6. Mrs. Sally Oppenheim

asked the Minister of State for Defence what plans he has to improve procedures for the transportation of thionyl chloride, and other toxic materials, by his Department: and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Ian Gilmour

Thionyl chloride is a chemical widely used in industry and laboratories. The transport arrangements made by the Ministry of Defence for this and other toxic materials fully comply with the regulations and recommended good practice for the transport of such goods.

Mrs. Oppenheim

Will my hon. Friend ensure that when such noxious substances are transported to or from the Chemical Defence Establishment by rail the wagons are not shunted or left in sidings in close proximity to residential property, in view of the fact that it was due only to the alertness of a railwayman noticing a leak and prompt action by Gloucester's outstanding fire service that a tragedy was averted in Gloucester only last month?

Mr. Gilmour

I entirely agree with my hon. Friend about the alertness of the Gloucester fire brigade, but it is possible to exaggerate the danger of the incident, which we are still investigating. I am sure my hon. Friend will agree that the rarity of such incidents shows what careful precautions we take.