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Ground Water: Pollution

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 21st May 2008.

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Photo of Steve Webb Steve Webb Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what (a) assessment he has made of risks and (b) estimate he has made of levels of contamination of groundwater; which 10 sites had the highest level of groundwater contamination in the most recent period for which figures are available; what the sources of contamination were in each case; what factors influence decisions relating to remedial action; and what remedial action has been undertaken at each site.

Photo of Phil Woolas Phil Woolas Minister of State (Environment), Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I refer the hon. Member to the earlier responses given to Mr. Hancock on 17 March and 31 March 2008, Official Report, column 736W and column 499W respectively regarding groundwater contamination and contaminated land.

Further to those responses, the highest levels of contamination at a particular site do not necessarily reflect the most serious risks to people or the environment. This usually depends on many factors which control the likelihood that pollutants might enter a "receptor" (e.g. a person or ecosystem) with harmful effect. Any remedial action will depend on the nature of these source-pathway-receptor relationships and the outcome of a risk assessment, as well as considerations of technical feasibility, costs and benefits. These are site-specific matters.

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