§ 3.26 p.m.
§ The Question was as follows:
§ To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they are able to keep themselves fully informed as to the consequences of the accident at the Icmesa plant near Seveso, Italy, on 10th July, and of the nature of remedial action being taken; and whether they are partaking in a mutual exchange of information.
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, Her Majesty's Government responded immediately to requests from the Italian authorities for information and advice on the toxicology and measurement of TCDD. As the scale of pollution became clear, the advice broadened to involve methods of decontamination and the protection of personnel. There have been exchange visits of experts and a useful feedback of information. We were fully represented at a meeting organised by the EEC on 30th September and 1st October 1976 in Milan, at which the problems created by the Seveso disaster were fully discussed.
§ Lord HALE
My Lords, while very sincerely thanking the noble Lord for that excellent statement, and congratulating Her Majesty's Government on the possession of one of the outstanding world experts on this complicated toxic problem, may I ask whether he would first of all make sure that manufacture is not continuing at all in the United Kingdom? Secondly, will he satisfy himself that the provisions which were taken for decontamination of the area affected by the explosion of 1968 are still working, and that they are again reviewed? Will he thirdly realise and say that however great this tragedy, it could have been very much greater? In this we are dealing with matters over which no chemist knows the control. Might he consider going to Vietnam to talk to the experts there who unfortunately for years have acquired tragic experience of the effects of defoliation?
§ Lord JACQUES
My Lords, I think I should first say that the process that was going on here at Bolsover where we had the disaster, although similar to that going on in Italy, was somewhat different. Our plant was designed to prevent the kind of disaster which occurred in Italy. Secondly, I would point out that since the Italian disaster the manufacturers who carried on that process at Bolsover have announced that it has been discontinued, so that the process which gave rise to the disaster in Italy is not being carried on in this country at all. So far as the question is concerned with the 1968 disaster, I shall communicate my noble friend's observations to my right honourable friend.