HC Deb 04 February 1974 vol 868 cc875-6
26. Dr. John A. Cunningham

asked the Minister for Energy when he expects to receive the report of the nuclear installations inspector concerning the radiation accident at Windscale in the autumn of 1973; whether the report will be published in full; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Patrick Jenkin

The Chief Inspector of Nuclear Installations is currently considering a report on this incident, which he expects to submit to me before mid-February. When I have received this report I will consider whether it should be published and whether a statement would be appropriate.

Dr. Cunningham

I thank the Minister for that reply, but is he not aware that for the public good in my constituency the report on this incident should be published in full? Is he not further aware that the incident has given rise to a serious on-going labour dispute on the site and it is most important that the trade unions should be in full possession of the facts so that they may fully represent their members in the negotiations?

Mr. Jenkin

I should want to consider the question of publication. It is not entirely straightforward, as I am sure the hon. Gentleman will recognise. For instance, in the report there would be details of the inquiries and of the dosages of radiation received by individuals. It is questionable whether that information should be made the subject of a public report. Some of the information in the report is of a commercial nature to British Nuclear Fuels Limited and there, too, there could be damage to the public interest if the report were published. I undertake to consider the matter carefully. I realise the interest of the hon. Gentleman's constituents. It is a matter for thanks that no member of the public was injured in the accident, although a number of employees at Windscale were.

Mr. Strang

Will the Minister give an assurance that the Government will pay close attention to the statement by the nuclear inspector, published in today's Select Committee's report, that it would take him at least two years to decide the safety of the PWR reactor in British conditions?

Mr. Jenkin

That concerns a fuel treatment plant and not a reactor, but, naturally, the Government would be closely concerned with the views of the chief nuclear inspector, whose evidence I read over the weekend.