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Toxic Waste Tips

Volume 167: debated on Wednesday 14 February 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the danger posed by toxic waste tips to drinking water supplies and on current filling and safety regulations in respect of toxic tips; and what plans he has to amend these regulations in the future.

There are a range of statutory controls which provide effective protection of drinking water supplies. First, there is a requirement for waste disposal authorities—in considering applications for disposal licences made under the Control of Pollution Act 1974—to have regard to possible risks of water pollution, and to consult with the National Rivers Authority. Under provisions in the current Environmental Protection Bill, we propose to strengthen and extend the licensing controls. Secondly, under the Water Act 1989, water undertakings are under a statutory duty to supply wholesome water, and it is an offence to supply water which is unfit for human consumption. Thirdly, we have recently announced the formation of a new drinking water inspectorate whose job it will be to check that supplies meet the standards defined in the new water quality regulations. Fourthly, the NRA also have extensive programmes for monitoring the quality of ground and surface waters. Consequently, we now have a strong set of safeguards for drinking water supplies and I have no plans to amend the basic system of controls in this area.