HC Deb 19 November 2003 vol 413 cc966-7W
Dr. Julian Lewis

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what quantities of(a) oil, (b oily ballast water, (c) asbestos, (d) polychlorinated biphenyl, (e) biohazards, (f) ozone-depleting substances, (g) mercury, (h) cadmium and (i) chromium and lead-based paints are present on Her Majesty's ships (i) Fearless, (ii) Intrepid, (iii) Brave, (iv) Boxer, (v) Rame Head and (vi) RFA Sir Geraint; and if he will make a statement. [139161]

Mr. Ingram

Information is not held in the format requested for all of the vessels. However, the following substances have been identified on Intrepid in preparation for her sale:

  1. (a) Residual diesel fuel in pipes and systems—estimated 4,000 litres. Residual mineral oil in sumps and pipework—estimated 2,000 litres;
  2. (b) Oily ballast water—all tanks cleaned and flushed with water;
  3. (c) Asbestos—up to an estimated 40 tons;
  4. (d) Polychlorinated biphenyl/triphenyl (PCB/PCT)—trace; no liquid PCB;
  5. (e) Biohazards—none identified;
  6. (f) Ozone-depleting substances—all main refrigerant gases removed; balance to be removed before disposal;
  7. (g) Mercury—none known;
  8. (h) Cadmium—minimal (plating on fastenings);
  9. (i) Chromium and lead-based paints—not known.

HMS Fearless is the sister-ship to HMS Intrepid and she is similar in every respect.

HMS Boxer and HMS Brave have been designated as target ships for a Cincfleet High Seas Firing and have already been stripped of much of their equipment. As part of the preparatory planning work for the firing, an Environmental Impact Assessment is being undertaken to provide the necessary environmental assurances. These rigorous preparatory steps will ensure that we are able to comply with the international conventions that regulate protection of the marine environment, and we will be required to demonstrate before the exercise takes place that those materials subject to regulation have been removed from the ships.

Ramehead and RFA Sir Geraint remain in operational service. Ramehead is used as a static training vessel. Sir Geraint is held in a reduced readiness state, has been defuelled and there is no oily ballast water on board. Both vessels have been the subject of extensive asbestos surveys and some asbestos has been removed in accordance with Health & Safety Executive directives. The surveys indicate the type of asbestos and where it is fitted, but not the quantities. Three years ago, the outer bottom of Ramehead was pressure-blasted back to bare metal and re-coated using commercial paint products. Similar products have been used throughout the life of Sir Geraint.

Prior to the disposal of Sir Geraint and Ramehead, as part of the preparations for sale, further surveys will be undertaken to identify any remaining hazardous materials and a waste statement will be produced.

Dr. Julian Lewis

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what(a) Royal Navy ships and (b) Royal Fleet Auxiliaries have been sold for scrapping overseas in each year since 1997; in which countries they were scrapped; and what toxic materials were present on these vessels. [139162]

Mr. Ingram

I will write to the hon. Member and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.