HC Deb 08 February 1977 vol 925 cc653-4W
Mr. Patrick McNair-Wilson

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is satisfied with the safety of anthracite and other coals being imported into the United Kingdom in view of recent explosions; if he will give an assurance that there is a proper process of screening out detonators; how many accidents have been attributed to this type of imported fuel in the past 12 months; and what quantities are being imported from which countries of origin.

Mr. Eadie

There have been 26 reported explosions concerning imported anthracite all occurring since September 1976. None of them resulted in personal injury. Investigations by the coal trade are still in process, but I understand that the probable origin of the coal causing the trouble—some 20,000 tons—has been located, although not yet conclusively. The importers have made strong representations to the exporters and have sent experts to supervise the loading of new consignments. They have also issued instructions that the anthracite must be carefully scrutinised during unloading. The matter is being fully investigated and vigorous steps are being taken to prevent further incidents. During the year ending March 1977 the United Kingdom will import about 100,000 tons of anthracite from a number of different countries, mainly Morocco, the Soviet Union, Vietnam and West Germany.

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