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Beaches (Oil Contamination)

Volume 640: debated on Tuesday 16 May 1961

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asked the Parliamentary Secretary for Science what arrangements have been made to keep coastal local authorities informed of progress in the research being carried out by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research to help to solve the problem of cleaning beaches which have been polluted by oil.

The Warren Spring Laboratory has sent to all coastal local authorities in England and Wales interim suggestions for dealing with oil contamination of beaches.

Like my hon. Friend, I was somewhat surprised when I learned that in fact it had not automatically been sent to Scottish local authorities. Should any Scottish local authority be afflicted with this very difficult problem of oil contamination of beaches, if it will let me know I will certainly see that it receives a copy of this interim report.

How far has this research gone towards solving the problem of pollution of beaches? Is my hon. Friend satisfied that enough research is being carried out into this problem, which is causing great distress in coastal areas?

I was at Warren Spring on Friday and was very impressed by the enthusiasm with which the Laboratory is approaching this problem. We certainly have not yet got a satisfactory solution to all the three forms which oil pollution takes on beaches. We still have a long way to go, but we have at any rate made a little progress.

Is my hon. Friend satisfied that enough money and energy are being devoted to the study of this problem, which is causing tremendous distress in coastal areas? Will he press forward with the utmost vigour to ensure that a solution is arrived at as soon as possible?

The suggestions made in the recent letter to local authorities will prove fairly helpful. My hon. Friend will realise that scientific research can take a considerable time, because one cannot demand of scientists that they produce a result by Thursday.