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Coal-Fired Power Stations

Volume 974: debated on Tuesday 27 November 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Energy what were the original estimates of construction cost and time and the actual construction cost and time, or the latest available estimates of these, for each coal-fired power station ordered in the United Kingdom since 1965 or ordered before 1965 and still under construction.

No coal-fired power station ordered before 1965 is still under construction in England and Wales. For coal-fired power stations ordered since 1965, the figures are:

asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what laws or regulations govern the procedures and actions to be taken in the case of or loss of a diving bell while in the water;(2) what are the minimum emergency provision of air, heat and communication required on a diving bell in the event of it breaking free from its support whilst underwater.

I have been asked to reply.Inshore diving operations which come within the scope of the Factories Act 1961 are governed by the Diving Operations Special Regulations 1960. Offshore the following virtually identical codes of regulations apply:

The Offshore Installations (Diving Operations) Regulations 1974.
The Merchant Shipping (Diving Operations) Regulations 1975.
The Submarine Pipe-Lines (Diving Operations) 1976.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 also applies to all divers at work in Great Britain and its territorial waters and to those engaged in diving in connection with offshore installations and submarine pipelines on the continental shelf.

There are general requirements in these regulations for the issue of diving manuals or rules for securing the safety, health and welfare of divers, including emergency procedures. More specifically, a diving bell is required to be provided with a means whereby, in the event of the failure of the main lifting gear, the chamber can be returned to the surface. If this involves the shedding of weights they have to be capable of being shed from the chamber by a person inside and there must be arrangements to prevent their accidental shedding.

The regulations applying to diving operations involving the use of a bell require an emergency supply of breathing mixture to be provided in the event of a diving bell breaking loose; this reserve supply has to be immediately available for divers inside or outside the bell. The regulations also require that a diver in a bell should have a two-way oral communication system for maintaining contact with the surface and with any diver outside the bell; in addition, there must be arrangements for emergency signalling. In respect of heating the regulations make no specific reference to emergency provision, but there is a continuing requirement that a diving bell should be equipped for heating and this requirement continues to apply even when the bell has broken free.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many divers have died in each year since 1970, giving this as a proportion of the number of divers employed; and how this compares with the occupational death rate for seafarers, fishermen and miners.

I have been asked to reply.The numbers of divers reported to have suffered fatal accidents while working offshore in the United Kingdom sector of the continental shelf, together with

broad estimates of the maximum number so employed in each year, are as follows:

YearEstimated maximum number employedFatalities
1979 (to date)1,500(3)
I am advised that, because divers tend to be employed in the North Sea for only part of the year, and may move from one national sector to another during that time, it would be misleading to derive any fatal accident incidence rates from these figures. It is, however, clear from these figures that despite the recent reduction in fatalities diving is still a more dangerous occupation than any of the others cited.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many divers have died while operating in, or from, a diving bell; and how many of them occurred after the diving bell broke free from its supports.

I have been asked to reply.Since 1971, 11 divers have died while operating in or from a diving bell in connection with the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas in the United Kingdom sector of the continental shelf, and four of these died after the diving bell broke away from its support system.