HC Deb 11 May 1989 vol 152 cc479-80W
Mrs. Ann Taylor

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what steps he is taking to monitor heavy metal and other toxic substances from Piper Alpha.

Mr. Peter Morrison

I refer the hon. Lady to the reply I gave on 8 December 1988 to my hon. Friend the Member for Dulwich (Mr. Bowden), and to the replies given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland to the hon. Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Godman) on 11 January 1989, and to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Doran) on 3 May 1989.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland, in co-operation with the operators, Occidental Petroleum (Caledonia) Ltd, has been monitoring debris and other samples from the vicinity of the site of Piper Alpha for polychlorinated biphenyls and radioactivity. A report on this work will be published shortly.

In addition, conditions attached to the abandonment programme for Piper Alpha approved by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy include requirements for surveys of the toppled remains and surrounding sea-bed to establish the position of debris and to monitor for leakage of oil or gas. They also require samples of sediment, sea-water and fish to be obtained and examined for the presence of PCBs and radioactivity. The conditions provide for repetition of these surveys and sampling at such times as the Secretary of State may subsequently direct. An assessment of the surveys carried out under the abandonment programme will be published in due course.

Occidental have also arranged to have portions of the samples referred to above examined for the presence of heavy metals originating from past drilling discharges. This work is being carried out to check predictions, made on the basis of sampling around other platforms, that the levels of heavy metals present are not hazardous to marine life. These results will also be made available to Her Majesty's Government.

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