HL Deb 01 July 1997 vol 581 cc21-2WA
Lord Evans of Parkside

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether radioactive waste has ever been dumped in Beaufort's Dyke.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue)

Documents recently discovered in the Public Records Office show that small quantities of laboratory waste and luminous materials which fall within the definition of low or intermediate level radioactive waste were dumped in Beaufort's Dyke during the 1950s. The"Report of the Independent Review of Disposal of Radioactive Waste in the North East Atlantic" by Professor F. G. T. Holliday, which was placed in the Library of the House on its publication in 1984 and on which Ministers have relied in making statements on this issue, makes no reference to such activities.

Naturally, it is regretted that the Government have given inaccurate information in the past. Copies of the documents have now been placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament. Further searches of the archive records are being undertaken as a matter of urgency and if any new information comes to light we will make it public.

Monitoring undertaken regularly since the early 1960s confirms that this dumping had no measurable effect on radioactivity levels in the area, which remain well within internationally agreed safety levels. From 1963 all dumping of radioactive waste was restricted to waters at least 2000 metres deep and from 1982 the UK ceased all dumping of radioactive waste at sea.