HC Deb 06 November 1996 vol 284 cc517-8W
Ms Roseanna Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the types and quantities of radioactive or other toxic substances which have been found in the cleaning of the seabed of the Holy Loch; and if he will make a statement on the purpose of this exercise. [1501]

Mr. Soames

There is no longer a defence requirement for Holy Loch. My Department plans, therefore, to clear debris from the bed of the loch to a suitable standard to allow responsibility for it to be transferred back to the appropriate civil authorities. We have received a number of local requests to carry out such a clearance.

No clearance work has yet started. We have agreed to carry out an environmental assessment of the impact of the clearance process on the local area before any such work is undertaken, and to make public its results. Our plans have been discussed fully with the local authority and environmental agencies.

Levels of radioactive contamination in the loch are extremely low. The report of a survey carried out by the defence radiological protection service and the US Navy in 1992 concluded that there is no public radiological hazard associated with the debris, or its removal. These conclusions have been confirmed by subsequent annual surveys. No toxic materials have been identified in the various visual surveys which we have carried out in preparation for the clearance operation.