§ Mr. Henderson
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which a gas-carrying vessel went aground near Leith; what information he has as to the consideration given by the Forth Ports Authority to the hazardous nature of the cargo while the vessel remained in the estuary; and if he has received a report on the effectiveness of the emergency procedures.
§ Mr. Michael Spicer
I have been asked to reply.
An inspector has been appointed to carry out an inquiry into the casualty under the Merchant Shipping Act and is presently pursuing his enquiries.
The Forth Ports Authority has a rigorous system for the control of all shipping movements and vessels with hazardous cargoes are additionally required to confirm each time before entering the ports authority area, that they comply with internationally agreed safety standards and that their systems are in good working order.
Immediately after the grounding of the Inga Tholstrup the authority designated a three-mile exclusion zone around the vessel and this was maintained until her cargo had safely been transferred to other vessels.
Throughout the incident the authority acted in the interests of the safety of all concerned and kept my Department's marine pollution control unit fully informed of the action being taken.