HC Deb 22 January 1990 vol 165 cc612-3
13. Mr. Denzil Davies

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will carry out an inquiry into the effect upon the environment of the emissions of polychlorinated biphenyls from the combustion of plastic clinical waste in hospital incinerators in Wales.

Mr. Grist

No, Sir. Such an inquiry would anticipate implementation of the proposals contained in the Environmental Protection Bill which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment laid before the House on 20 December 1989. When it is enacted, NHS incinerators will be required to meet operating and emission standards that will be published and will be enforceable by the relevant local authorities.

Mr. Davies

Does the Minister agree that, when plastic PCBs are burnt—a considerable amount is burnt in hospital incinerators—biphenyls and dioxins are emitted unless the combustion temperature is extremely high? He mentioned the new legislation. At what temperature should these plastics be burnt to prevent the emission of biphenyls and dioxins?

Mr. Grist

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment is undertaking consultations on standards of incineration which it is intended should be introduced later this year.

Sir Dudley Smith

Does my hon. Friend agree that there has been so much controversy about this in Wales that it is a matter of considerable urgency? Will he urge my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State to take every step to get the issue moving? Is my hon. Friend aware that the county town of Warwick has been threatened with an incinerator and that there is considerable anxiety about it?

Mr. Grist

My hon. Friend should be reassured by the fact that the power to control and license the incinerator would be given to his local authority by the proposals in our Bill. He would be able to exercise such authority locally. That should give him and his constituents a great deal of assurance.