HC Deb 25 June 1973 vol 858 cc268-9W
Mr. David Clark

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what reports he has received as to the escape of toxic wastes from sites in England; and what action he is taking thereon:

(2) if he will list the names and locations of the sites in England upon which toxic wastes have been dumped which are being, or are to be, investigated by his Department;

(3) what machinery he has set up to carry out investigations on sites on which toxic wastes are dumped.

Mr. Graham Page

Under the Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act 1972 local authorities are responsible for dealing with any problems arising from the inappropriate disposal of toxic wastes to land in their area. They do not make regular reports to the Department on such cases but can and do seek advice and assistance from officers of my Department on various aspects when necessary. I have already announced our intention to introduce legislation giving the new county councils wider control powers and responsibility for waste disposal.

In order to make an overall assessment of the pattern of waste disposal in England as a basis for future strategies, we have initiated a review of all the sites on which wastes, toxic or otherwise, are currently being tipped. This review is being carried out by refuse disposal authorities with the help of river authorities and the Institute of Geological Sciences who are making theoretical assessments of pollution risks, but the review is not yet complete.

To assist local authorities further my Department is developing a programme of research to investigate the nature and destination of contaminants in the percolate from tips; details were given in my reply to the hon. Member for Pontypridd (Mr. Abse) on 21st June. This programme will include investigations on a range of sites which will be selected so as to provide information about the effects of different wastes, chemical variables, different site conditions, and different geological factors in the underlying strata.