Skip to main content

Radioactive Waste

Volume 129: debated on Tuesday 15 March 1988

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will publish in the Official Report the advice he was given by the International Commission for Radiological Protection and the National Radiological Protection Board when determining what weekly level of megabecquerels should be specified in the certificate of authorisation for the disposal of radioactive waste.

The International Commission for Radiological Protection and the National Radiological Protection Board periodically publish formal recommendations to Governments on the criteria to be adopted when setting discharge limits. The Government's objectives for radioactive waste management based on this advice are given at paragraphs 13 and 14 of the Government's response to the Environment Committee's report on radioactive waste (Cmnd. 9852, 1986).

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if any study has been carried out by his Department as to the environmental implications of the release into the atmosphere of polonium 210; and at what rate polonium 210 decays when discharged.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Pollution required an environmental assessment of the radiological implications of the polonium 210 discharge. The National Radiological Protection Board undertook this for Capper Pass Limited. The report concluded that radiation exposures from discharges are insignificant. Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution has checked and confirmed this assessment. Half of the polonium decays every 138 days due to natural processes.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report the National Radiological Protection Board's evaluation of the official radiological consequences of the work undertaken by the north Humberside firm, Capper Pass, prior to the granting of the certificate of authorisation for the disposal of radioactive waste.

The evaluation was undertaken by the National Radiological Protection Board at the request of the company and I have asked the company if a copy can be placed in the Library of the House.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will outline the system of monitoring for emissions of polonium 210 from the chimney stack at the North Humberside Smelting and Refining Company, Capper Pass, distinguishing between the differing responsibilities of the company, the National Radiological Protection Board and Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution; and if he has any plans to change the current arrangements.

Samples of stack discharges are collected by the company. Stack samples are routinely analysed by the company and check samples have been analysed independently for Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution. The National Radiological Protection Board analyses air samples taken from sites near the plant. I am satisfied with these arrangements.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will consider introducing a more frequent system of monitoring by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution of smelting and refining installations such as that at Capper Pass in north Humberside.

The onus is on operators to demonstrate compliance with the conditions of a discharge authorisation. I am satisfied that the check monitoring undertaken by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution is adequate.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will outline the findings of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution's 1986 assessment of samples taken from the main chimney stack and the environmental monitoring stations at the North Humberside Smelting and Refining Company, Capper Pass; and what information he has as to the level of naturally occurring radiation.

The results indicated that the most exposed member of the public would receive less than 1 per cent. of the dose received from natural radiation.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will instruct Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution to conduct an immediate investigation into emissions of polonium 210 from the chimney stack of the North Humberside Smelting and Refining Company, Capper Pass.

As part of the investigation I have asked Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution to review the discharge authorisation issued to Capper Pass Limited before the end of this year. A part of that review will be a study of current and planned emissions, together with an assessment of any health effects which could result.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has as to how many tests for polonium 210 have been carried out at the North Humberside Smelting and Refining Company, Capper Pass; by whom the tests were conducted; and if he will publish the results.

Tests are made weekly. Subject to the agreement of the company, results will be published in the report to be prepared by Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution.