HC Deb 24 January 2000 vol 343 cc121-2W
Mr. Llew Smith

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what assessment has been made(a) by his Department and (b) by the Air Accident Investigation Board, of the environmental implications of the dispersal of the depleted uranium ballast from the wings of the Korean Airlines aircraft which crashed at Stansted on 22 December 1999. [104703]

Mr. Mullin

I understand from the Environment Agency and the Air Accidents Investigation Board that the depleted uranium was part of the structure of the aircraft and was incorporated as solid weights in the tail section. Sixteen of the 20 weights have been recovered and none of these shows signs of damage such that dispersal would have occurred. A radiological survey of the crash site is being conducted and it is expected this will lead to the recovery of the others. The facts already established about the nature of the fire that occurred after the crash mean that it is extremely unlikely that any dispersal of the uranium will have taken place.

The aircraft was carrying a very small amount of radioactive material used for medical diagnosis. This was contained in 220 vials of iodine-125 bound for China. The quantity of material involved is too small to cause any damage to local people or the environment. This material is of such limited potential risk that it is not required to be notified to the pilot in command among the list of dangerous goods carried. The recovery of residual material from the accident site is in hand and its disposal is regulated by the Environment Agency.

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