British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. (Effluent)

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 8th July 1976.

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Photo of Mr Nigel Forman Mr Nigel Forman , Sutton Carshalton 12:00 am, 8th July 1976

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the radiation standards set by his Department with regard to effluent discharged by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. into the Irish Sea a few miles off the the coast at Windscale.

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

Yes, Sir. The authorisations, which are granted jointly by my right hon. Friends the Minister and the Secretary of State for the Environment, for the discharges from Windscale Conform fully to the recommendations of the International Commission for Radiological Protection which have been endorsed by the Medical Research Council.

Photo of Mr Nigel Forman Mr Nigel Forman , Sutton Carshalton

Will the Minister assure the House that the standards set for this form of low-level nuclear waste are sufficiently strict to ensure that there is no threat to human health, either now or in the future? Will he tell the House why officials from the Fisheries Radiobiological Laboratory were not prepared to meet the team from the Granada Television World in Action Programme, who investigated this matter recently?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

I think that the producers of the Granada programme are well aware of the reasons for the laboratory's non-participation.

The current discharge levels are well within the current authorisations. The authorisations which govern the discharge of radioactive effluent into the sea are drawn up in the light of guidelines issued by the International Radiological Protection Board. I am satisfied, having looked into this matter again in the last few days, that it should not give cause for concern.

Photo of Dr Jack Cunningham Dr Jack Cunningham , Whitehaven

Will the Minister make it quite clear to the House that in the Granada film access was granted to Windscale to those making the film, but when the programme went out none of the views of British Nuclear Fuels played a part in the production? Notwithstanding the allegations by an American scientist about the dangers to the public, none of the work done by that scientist bears any resemblance to the work done at Windscale, or the position in Cumbria.

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

Yes. The fact is that the programme did cause some concern, and I have looked very carefully at the position with our own scientists. I assure the House that we keep this matter continually under review.

Photo of Mr Andrew Bowden Mr Andrew Bowden , Brighton, Kemptown

There is growing concern among environmentalists about the dumping of all types of radioactive materials into the sea. Is it not time for a complete review of the standards? Should the Government not look ahead to the next 100 or even 500 years, and not let the problem go until it is too late to solve it?

Photo of Mr Edward Bishop Mr Edward Bishop , Newark

I can reassure the hon. Member by saying that the White Paper on this matter, which was produced some time ago, is under review at the moment and may be updated. The matter is not left dormant; it is reviewed in the light of current events.