HC Deb 15 March 2001 vol 364 cc674-6W
Mr. Cousins

To ask the Secretary or State for Defence from what sources his Department acquired depleted uranium(a) materials, (b) components and (c) ammunition after 1992. [153197]

Mr. Spellar

[holding answer 14 March 2001]The Ministry of Defence has made several acquisitions of equipment containing depleted uranium (DU) since 1992.

Two types of DU-based ammunition are in service with British Forces: the UK manufactured 120 mm anti-armour round and the US manufactured 20 mm RN Phalanx round.

Phalanx ammunition is sold to the UK via the US Department of Defense (DOD). All of DOD's DU comes from three US Department of Energy (DOE) gaseous diffusion plants: Paducah. Kentucky; Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Portsmouth, Ohio.

Royal Ordnance, who manufacture the 120 mm anti-armour round, buy their DU from Starmet Corporation who in turn buy it from DOE. They have no practical way of determining exactly where the input material came from. They believe, however, that it was mostly from Paducah, Kentucky. but it was all produced at their plants at Concord and Barnwell in the US.

In 1998, Royal Hospital Haslar purchased equipment from ADAC Laboratories in which DU is used as a radiation shield. Hercules C-130J aircraft, which use DU as counter-balance weights in their Flight Control System, have been purchased from Lockheed Martin since 1992. In December 1993, the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA) acquired 2.5 tonnes of DU plate from AEA Technology, Harwell.

In April 1999, the Defence Radiology Protection Service, part of DERA, acquired 62 kg of DU from Royal Ordnance Speciality Materials, Wolverhampton for corrosion research. Most recently, in January 2001. three 30 mm A-10 rounds were brought back from Kosovo for research purposes.

Mr. Alasdair Morgan

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if test firing of DU shells at the Dundrennan range is exempt from regulation under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993. [151848]

Mr. Spellar

While the Ministry of Defence is formally exempt from Radioactive Substances Act 1993, we follow the principles and spirit of the regulations. Periodic visits to the Dundrennan range are carried out by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Dr. Jack Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence at which of his Department's test locations in the United Kingdom the firing of depleted uranium projectiles has taken place; how many test firings have been made at each location; what arrangements are in place for the protection and monitoring of people and the environment; and if he will make a statement. [144771]

Mr. Simon Thomas

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what guidelines his Department follows when deciding at which depleted uranium munitions may be (a) fired, (b) stored and (c) transported. [144989]

Mr. Spellar

[pursuant to the replies, 15 January 2001, c. 42–43W, and 9 March 2001, c. 357–8W]It is our policy that, where UK statutory regulations are not applicable to MOD establishments, we undertake by agreement with the Government Departments concerned that the principles and spirit of the regulations are to be followed and arrangements introduced which will be, so far as is reasonably practicable, at least as good as those required by legislation. However, the Radioactive Substances Act itself does not apply to the Ministry of Defence.