HC Deb 31 March 1993 vol 222 cc290-1W
Mr. Oppenheim

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what further investigations have been made of dioxin contamination of soils and herbage in Derbyshire.

Mr. Maclean

Investigations have continued following the publication of reports by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on dioxin contamination in the Bolsover area of Derbyshire. These have identified slightly elevated levels of dioxins in a number of samples of soils and herbage at Staveley. The pattern of dioxins differs from that found in previous samples near Bolsover, suggesting a different source. Further inquiries by the inspectorate at industrial processes in the area suggest that emissions from a foundry at Staveley may be responsible. The management of the foundry have given the inspectorate their full co-operation.

The foundry comes within the scope of local authority air pollution control under part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990, and these findings have been conveyed to Chesterfield borough council. A copy of the findings has been placed in the Library of the House.

Human exposure to dioxin contamination in the area would be most likely to arise through consumption of locally produced fatty foods, such as milk. Samples of milk from two farms close to the plant, taken in 1991, were well within the normal range for urban/industrial areas, and not a cause for concern. There is no reason at present to suppose that the manner of operation of the plant has changed significantly since 1991, but as a precautionary measure my right hon. Friend the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is now arranging for further milk samples to be taken.