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Awe Aldermaston

Volume 229: debated on Thursday 22 July 1993

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research AWE Aldermaston is conducting into methods for decommissioning radioactive plant and buildings on site.

AWE has a continuing research and development programme to define and improve techniques and equipment for decommissioning radioactive plant and buildings on site. The work ranges from developing decontamination and size reduction techniques through to applications involving equipment for waste classification.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list all the toxic chemicals used and discharge into the environment by AWE Aldermaston that appear on the AEC black list and the United Kingdom Government's Red List of toxic chemicals.

Of the toxic chemicals included in the black and red lists, AWE Aldermaston discharges into the environment cadmium and its compounds and mercury and its compounds. The amounts discharged are within the limits prescribed by the relevant regulatory authorities using approved waste disposal routes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to this answer of 25 June, Official Report, columns 307–8, if he will place copies in the Library of the annual revisions of AWE Aldermaston decommissioning and radioactive waste management policies and programmes of work.

The documents referred to are confidential management publications and cannot therefore be made available to the Library.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence whether AWE Aldermaston has disposed of any waste thought to contain plutonium contaminated material to (a) the British Nuclear Fuels disposal site at Drigg, (b) the Atomic Energy Authority low-level waste pits at Dounreay or (c) the Atomic Energy Authority intermediate-level waste store at Dounreay.

Under a management certificate of authority, AWE Aldermaston sends plutonium contaminated, low-level waste in the form of solidified sludge to the disposal site at Drigg. This constitutes approximately 20 gms per annum. No plutonium contaminated waste is sent to the other two sites referred to.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how much radioactive waste is at present stored at the former royal dockyards HMS Chatham or HMS Gillingham; and if he will make a statement.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research AWE Aldermaston is conducting into (a) the updating of the WE177, Chevaline or Trident and (b) a warhead for a tactical air-to-surface missile.

A continuing research programme is maintained at the Atomic Weapons Establishment which is applied to specific warhead programmes as necessary. As regards a warhead for a tactical air-to-surface missile, I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Leyton (Mr. Cohen) on 12 November 1992, Official Report, col 882.