HC Deb 22 January 1990 vol 165 cc608-9
7. Mr. Livsey

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the taking of soil samples around the Rechem incinerator.

Mr. Grist

My right hon. Friend is considering what further action may be necessary in the light of the results of monitoring undertaken by the Welsh Office and other agencies in the Pontypool area.

Mr. Livsey

Will the Minister authorise comprehensive environmental tests not only of the soil but of grass and meat to test for toxins passing into the food chain? Does he agree that the stock exchange is investigating Rechem share insider dealings and that a Welsh Office public inquiry on Rechem is long overdue?

Mr. Grist

That seems a very muddled supplementary. Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution is currently conducting further environmental soil surveys in the vicinity of various types of incincerators, including that at Pontypool. As I said in my answer, and as the hon. Gentleman will know, we have been carrying out various surveys ourselves and releasing the results to interested parties.

Mr. Alan Williams

Given the poor level of monitoring of the plant by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution and the general lack of confidence in HMIP's work, will the Minister note the work commissioned by Torfaen borough council, whose independent analysis shows that levels of polychlorinated biphenyls in grasslands around the Rechem plant are extremely high—50 to 100 times the background? In the light of such findings and of the general concern in the area, why does the Welsh Office refuse to allow a public inquiry into the operations of the plant?

Mr. Grist

The hon. Gentleman has raised this matter before, I think in the Select Committee. The surveys carried out by HMIP are the surveys for which we have most respect. We aware of the findings given to us by Torfaen borough council, and that is why we have instituted investigations of our own. We are looking into the findings of all the surveys to decide what step to take next.