§ Mr. Chaytor
To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on the Environment Agency's proposal in respect of technetium-99 discharges; what process she has established to consider representations on the proposal; and when she expects to take a decision in respect of the proposal. 
§ Mr. Meacher
[holding answer 11 March 2002]In 1998, in the light of international concern about discharges of technetium-99 from BNFL's Sellafield site, Ministers requested that the Agency carry out a review of discharges of this radionuclide on a "fast track". In February 2000, the Agency published its "Scope and Methodology Document", describing its plans for the re-examination of radioactive discharge authorisations at Sellafield, including technetium-99, and sought public comment. In November 2000 the Agency published its "Explanatory Document" setting out its analysis of the situation concerning technetium-99 discharges, abatement technologies and a range of future approaches that might be taken. Public consultation on this document finished on 5 March 2001. The Agency took into account the responses that it had received and, in September 2001, published its proposed decisions on the future regulation of technetium-99 discharges. My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State and the Secretary of State for Health will give a decision on this shortly.