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Volume 173: debated on Tuesday 5 June 1990

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will take steps to require disclosure of information about the nature of pollution incidents within two weeks after they occur;(2) if he will amend legislation on trade secrets so that waste disposal authorities are required to disclose specific information about the nature of industrial wastes;(3) if he will publish the results of the monitoring of chemical discharges into sewers.

Information about releases from industrial processes coming under part I of the Environmental Protection Bill, including pollution incidents, discharges into sewers and the nature of industrial wastes, will be placed on public registers of information as a matter of course. The terms of an EC directive on public access to information which the United Kingdom played a leading role in negotiating will also require environmental information to be made available on request.

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution will publish the identities of waste disposal authorities which fail to meet standards and local authorities which accept hazardous waste into dumps in contravention of their licences.

Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution is currently undertaking trial audits of a small number of waste disposal authorities. Once the results of these have been evaluated, a planned programme of audits is to be introduced and it is the inspectorate's intention that the reports of these will be published. The reports will clearly identify any perceived inadequacies by the authorities concerned.Waste disposal authorities are currently responsible for ensuring that all operations, including those carried out by the authorities themselves, are properly controlled. There are no central records of occasions when licence conditions are breached. The Environmental Protection Bill contains provisions that records of enforcement action taken by the waste regulation authorities, which will be created by the Bill, will be contained on registers available to the public, and that the authorities must publish annual reports on their inspection and enforcement activities.