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Power Stations (Sulphur Oxide Gases)

Volume 526: debated on Monday 5 April 1954

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asked the Minister of Fuel what proportion of the dangerous sulphur oxides will be removed from the fuel gases at Dunston power station, County Durham, by the apparatus installed for the elimination of dust and smoke.

Does the Minister really believe that the removal of grit will do much good? Is not the question of gases, which destroy health and property and everything else worth keeping, important?

I think it is worth while removing the grit. I agree that the gas is also important and I have another Question to answer on that subject.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power whether, in view of the limited possibilities of existing processes for ridding the flue gases of power stations of harmful sulphur oxides, he will arrange for investigation and research into this question.

Will the Minister give special attention to this matter, in view of the fact that present methods involve the use of large quantities of water; and that the River Thames, I am informed, will already be saturated with the effluent of calcium sulphate when two of the power stations only are in use on its banks?

Yes, Sir. I am informed that the hon. Gentleman is correct when he says that the limit has been reached in regard to the River Thames, owing to the effluent which he mentions. Work is now taking place in connection with a new process involving the use of gas works liquor, but it is in an experimental stage.


asked the Minister of Fuel and Power how many extra tons of sulphur in the form of sulphur oxides will be discharged into the atmosphere annually when the extension to the Barking power station now contemplated is complete; and what methods are proposed for eliminating these dangerous sulphur oxides from the flue gases.

A steady decrease in fuel consumption at this station is expected from now onwards and the discharge of sulphur oxides will, therefore, be reduced. The new part of the station will disperse its oxides at high temperature and great velocity through chimneys 375 feet high.

Is the Minister aware that the local authority is very anxious about this question, as are the people living in that area; and that I receive many letters from my constituents and people further afield saying how much they are suffering already from the gasworks and the power station in that area, and how anxious they are that a further station is contemplated?

As I have just said, we must face the fact that the method of sending out the smoke at high temperature and, by fans, at a high velocity, is the best practical method known to the engineers apart from the method of gas washing, which some experts consider not to be very satisfactory. However, it is fortunate that the old A station, which is probably the cause of most of the trouble, is due for retirement shortly. The new part of the station will go from a three-shift to a two-shift system of operation owing to the general policy of concentrating electricity production, as far as possible, in the Midlands coalfield.

Is it not a fact that in case of fog those gases sent out at a high velocity will descend on this area and produce all the troubles which have existed in the past?

I am a bit of a fog expert myself, and I would say that that is not true of radiation fogs of limited height. It would be true with regard to the denser fogs which grow up after fog has continued for a period of several days.