HC Deb 06 November 1997 vol 300 cc386-7
8. Mr. Hanson

If he will make a statement on progress into investigations into the dumping of radioactive material at sea. [12617]

Mr. Rooker

The searches to identify any unrecognised dumping of radioactive waste at sea have now been completed, apart from those at the Ministry of Defence, where they are unlikely to be completed this year, I regret. Only one further instance of such dumping has been identified in addition to those I announced in July this year. This concerns the disposal of radioactive miss-distance indicators by the Royal Air Force in the Holyhead deep in 1974.

The details of that disposal have been passed to the National Radiological Protection Board and have been included in its independent assessment of all the disposals. I expect to receive the board's report and to announce its findings very shortly.

We have throughout kept fully informed all the territorial Departments of Government, as well as the Government of the Irish Republic.

Mr. Jack

That was a statement

Mr. Rooker

The question asked for a statement.

Mr. Hanson

I thank my hon. Friend both for his comments today and for his statement in July. That brought to light, for the first time, unacceptable practices undertaken under previous Governments to dump radioactive material at sea—including in Liverpool bay, off the north Wales coast, near my constituency.

Will my hon. Friend continue with open government and bring forward any relevant proposals? When the board's recommendations are made and the details are known, will he put them before the House so that we can understand what happened under previous Governments?

Mr. Rooker

The matter will be dealt with openly, and the report published.

Mr. Alasdair Morgan

Is the Minister aware that radioactive contamination at sea also comes from nuclear establishments? Is he further aware that, as recently as October, contamination from the Dounreay plant resulted in the closure of a nearby fishery, which, to my knowledge, is still closed?

Mr. Rooker

I am aware of that. One reason why that contamination was discovered was the constant surveillance of our seashore for contaminants. It is a crucial and continuing process. Action will be taken when contaminants are found.

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