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Hazardous Waste (Dumping At Sea)

Volume 264: debated on Friday 20 October 1995

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To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what are the total quantities of (a) toxic chemical wastes, (b) surplus explosives, (c) redundant biological and chemical weapons stores and (d) radioactive wastes disposed of into the North Atlantic, Irish sea and English channel. [37661]

Complete records of past sea dumping operations are not available. In particular, it is not possible to identify the total tonnages or precise natures of conventional munitions which were disposed of by this means. However, surviving records indicate that approximately 120,000 tonnes of UK-manufactured chemical warfare munitions and some 17,000 tonnes of captured German aerial bombs containing the nerve agent tabun were dumped in sealed hulks scuttled in deep water in the North Atlantic, and 14,000 tons of phosgene-charged munitions were disposed of in Beaufort dyke in the north channel. There are no records of biological agents having been disposed of at sea. Details of the UK's sea disposal programme for low and intermediate-level radioactive wastes, including wastes generated by MOD establishments, were contained in a report commissioned by the Department of the Environment titled "Report of the Independent Review of Disposal of Radioactive Waste in the Northeast Atlantic" published by HMSO in November 1984.