HC Deb 15 December 1958 vol 597 cc156-8W
Mr. Awbery

104,105 and 106. asked the Minister of Housing and Local Government and Minister for Welsh Affairs (1) if he is aware that the construction of a number of nuclear power stations near great industrial centres is creating hazards for the population of these cities; what steps are being taken to protect the people against these dangers; and what proportion of the cost of protective or preventive measures will fall upon Government funds;

(2) if he will provide local authorities situated within a short distance from any nuclear power station with all the information available as to what might be the level of radioactivity in the area when the stations are fully employed; and if he will indicate his willingness to cooperate with health authorities on the problems which are likely to arise in the future;

(3) if he is aware of the danger of radioactivity on food and water arising from the erection of nuclear power stations; and what steps are being taken to provide local authorities with the necessary equipment for the detection of radioactivity and to provide them with all the information already in possession of his Department.

Mr. H. Brooke

I do not accept the implications in these Questions about danger. The nuclear power stations which are being built for the commercial production of electricity are not sited close to centres of population. They are of inherently safe design, and will present no more hazard to people living nearby than many existing industrial works.

The discharges of radioactive material will be very small, and will be carefully controlled. Under the Nuclear Installations (Licensing and Insurance) Bill, now under discussion in another place, no discharge of radioactive wastes will be permitted except in accordance with authorisations given, so far as England and Wales are concerned, by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and myself; and they will be given only after consultation with such public or local authorities are appear proper to be consulted.

The Government accept the responsibility for seeing that adequate arrangements are made for the monitoring of radioactivity in the surrounding areas; the cost, in so far as it is not borne by the owners of the reactors, will be met from Exchequer funds. The Government are also fully aware of the need for nearby authorities to be kept informed of the arrangements proposed, and they will be consulted in due time as to the terms of the authorisations to be given and as to the arrangements for checking the effect of the discharges.