HC Deb 07 November 1983 vol 48 cc20-1W
Mrs. Dunwoody

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will start an urgent inquiry into the origins of plutonium dust found on Cumbrian coastal areas.

Mr. Waldegrave

The origins of plutonium in the environment are fall-out from weapon tests and discharges from nuclear installations. The environmental effect of the latter is carefully monitored and the results published. Exposures to the public are well within the limits recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

In addition my Department already part-funds a programme of research in Cumbria into the distribution and behaviour of radioactive substances in the environment and the pathways by which they could lead to radiation exposure of man. The work is carried out by British Nuclear Fuels Limited, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, and the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology of the Natural Environment Research Council; budgeted expenditure this year is £180,000.

A description of the programme appears in chapter 8 of the progress report on sponsored research on radioactive waste management January 1981-March 1982, published by the Department earlier this year, which is in the Library of the House. The detailed reports of findings mentioned there are deposited in the British Library lending division.