§ Mr. Dalyell
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on his proposal to authorise the dumping of 3,900 tonnes of nuclear waste 400 miles off the Spanish Galician coast.
§ Mr. MacGregor
Under the Dumping at Sea Act 1974, the main factor which my right hon. Friend and I have to take into account when deciding whether to grant an application for a dumping licence is whether the waste concerned would cause scientifically significant damage to the marine environment or its living resources. My right hon. Friend and I are satisfied, on the basis of the scientific advice that we have received from our fisheries radiobiological laboratory, that this year's proposed operation to dump some 3,500 tonnes of radioactive waste at sea would not pose any scientifically significant risk to the marine environment or to human health. The proposed operation also accords with the requirements of the London dumping convention and the multilateral consultation and surveillance mechanism for sea dumping of radioactive waste established by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
My right hon. Friend and I therefore took the view that there were no relevant grounds for refusing a dumping licence. Consequently, my right hon. Friend has issued a licence that provides the applicants with the necessary authority to dump this waste at the internationally-agreed site some 400 nautical miles—about 700 km—from the nearest land.
Once such licences are issued, the licensee is responsible for the organisation of the dump.