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Chatham Dockyard

Volume 22: debated on Thursday 22 April 1982

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asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will hold a public inquiry into the employment of two Chatham dockyard workers in a radioactive contaminated area within the naval base nuclear complex, namely, the active waste tank removed from the submarine HMS "Churchill"; and what reply he has sent to the letter from the Union of Construction and Allied Trades and Technicians shop stewards convenor at Chatham dockyard of 6 April, forwarded to him by the hon. Member for Salford, East;(2) why the previous supervisors from the naval base complex at Chatham were moved elsewhere;(3) why paint chippings from HMS "Churchill" at Chatham dockyard were not collected, bagged and removed to the health physics department as required by the safety rules;(4) why work was done on the active waste tank of HMS "Churchill" without protective clothing, such as health physics overalls, hats, gloves and air fed respirators;(5) what is the medical condition of the two dockyard workers who were employed on work connected with the removal of the active waste tank from HMS "Churchill";(6) why the two men at Chatham employed in a radioactive contaminated area were allowed to take their contaminated overalls to the dining and locker rooms used by other workers;(7) what was the result of the examination of the overalls of the two men employed at Chatham in a radioactive contaminated area four days after they had finished the job in the area concerned;(8) why written work instructions were not given to the supervisor and the men involved in work on the active waste tank of HMS "Churchill" stating clearly the procedure to be adopted;(9) why no notice was posted at the entrance to the active waste tank of HMS "Churchill" in Chatham dockyard indicating the level of radioactivity; and why the area was not roped off;(10) what experience the new supervisory and technical staff employed on the work on HMS "Churchill" involving radioactive contamination had had on this type of work;

(11) on what occasions workmen at Chatham dockyard have been exposed to radiation; and in what circumstances.

An urgent technical investigation has been ordered into the employment of two dockyard workers in a radioactive contaminated area of the nuclear complex at Her Majesty's dockyard, Chatham. I would not wish to pre-empt the outcome of this investigation and will give a full reply to the hon. Member and the UCATT shop stewards' convenor upon its completion, which is expected to be by 7 May 1982.