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Radioactive Waste

Volume 301: debated on Wednesday 24 September 1997

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To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has received the National Radiological Protection Board's report on the radiological significance of past dumpings of radioactive waste at (a) Beaufort's Dyke and (b) elsewhere; and if he will make a statement. [17615]

I have now received the results of the independent assessment which I asked the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) to undertake, and I have arranged for copies of NRPB's report to be placed in the Library of the House.The report concludes that all the past dumpings which were identified during the searches of records would give rise to doses well within the International Commission on Radiological Protection's recommended dose limit for members of the public. Moreover, in all cases except one, the report states that the calculated doses were at a level considered trivial in radiological protection terms. Only in relation to the disposals in Liverpool Bay area were peak critical group doses estimated to have been above the 'trivial' level, and even these were well within the recommended dose limit. The NRPB conclude that, since estimated doses from the dispersion of radionuclides in marine waters are not significant in radiological protection terms, there is no need for additional environmental monitoring in connection with the disposals.The NRPB consider that the only eventuality which could give rise to a significant calculated dose is if one of the two anti-static devices dumped off the Isle of Arran in 1958 were to be washed ashore or trawled up and handled by a member of the public. They conclude that the likelihood of this situation occurring is extremely low but advise that it may nevertheless be prudent to ensure that trawlermen and organisations responsible for dealing with material washed up on beaches are made aware of the possibility and advised to seek expert assistance if there is reason to suspect that one of these sources has appeared. In the light of this, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I are exploring with the NRPB how such advice can effectively be provided.