asked the Secretary of State for Trade what specific steps have been taken by him since his statement of 2 July in answer to the hon. Member for Essex, South-East, to find ways of ensuring that if a liquefied gas tanker is involved in a serious accident in the Thames Estuary, with risk of a spillage of cargo, it will not be brought to the British Gas terminal on Canvey Island, for unloading close to a residential population of 34,000; and what equipment or standby vessels are available in the estuary to deal safely with such a situation.
Liquefied gas tankers are designed and constructed to the highest safety standards, as their operating record shows.
At present such tankers can only be unloaded at a shore terminal, or into a compatible gas tanker elsewhere using well proven techniques and the equipment already on board.
In these circumstances my Department does not maintain additional facilities or vessels specifically for unloading a liquefied gas tanker which has been involved in a serious accident.
Research has, however, been initiated for the development of a hose suitable for the unloading of a stranded LNG tanker for use when the receiving ship cannot be brought alongside.