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Water Pollution

Volume 400: debated on Monday 3 March 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what percentage of significant non-water industrial discharges to rivers were reviewed in 2002 by the Environment Agency, broken down by region; and if she will make a statement. [99204]

The information shows the percentage of consents for significant non-water company industrial discharges to rivers reviewed by the Environment Agency (the Agency) regions in 2002. Consents are issued under the Water Resources Act 1991 (as amended by the Environment Act 1995). Significant discharges are defined by the Agency as consented discharges of more than five cubic metres per day, some smaller discharges where the type and location of discharge requires monitoring will also be included.

North East11
North West6
South West3
Overall percentage of consents reviewed in England = 8

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what levels of endocrine-disrupting chemicals are deemed to be safe (a) at point of emission and (b) within water courses under (i) UK, (ii) EU and (iii) International law; how many water courses there are where the level of endocrine disrupting chemicals exceeded levels deemed safe in the last year for which figures are available; and where they are located. [99238]

The Environment Agency for England and Wales currently refers to its own non-statutory standards of 1 microgram per litre as an annual average, and 2.5 micrograms per litre as a maximum allowable concentration, for nonylphenol and octylphenol for the protection of the aquatic environment where appropriate for regulating discharges to water courses. These values were detennined in relation to the substances' wider ecotoxicological impact, although data on their endocrine disrupting properties were taken into account.Under the EU Community Strategy on Endocrine Disrupting Substances, and the Oslo Paris Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic (OSPAR), a number of potentially endocrine disrupting substances have been identified for which an assessment strategy is currently being developed. The European Commission is expected to propose later this year EQS and emission standards for certain substances on the Priority List of Dangerous Substances under Article 16 of the Water Framework Directive which are potential endocrine disrupters.Nonylphenol ethoxylates and octylphenols are produced at one site only in the UK where monitoring for nonylphenol showed that the Environment Agency standard was not exceeded in 2002. The Environment Agency does not routinely monitor these substances nationally. Other substances, such as ethinyl oestradiol and oestradiol, have been studied in specific water courses and the results of those findings are currently the subject of risk assessment.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate she has made of the number of (a) streams and (b) rivers with high microbial loading in each year since 1997; and where each is located. [99252]

The Environment Agency does not have any statutory obligations to control the microbial quality of freshwater streams and rivers to specific environmental standards and does not routinely monitor the microbial quality of these waters.Limited monitoring is undertaken as part of research to investigate causes of non-compliance with bathing and shellfish water standards.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many legal actions have been begun against (a) water companies and (b) other companies in respect of discharges of endocrine disrupting chemicals in each year since 1992; how many in each case resulted in successful prosecutions; and what fines were levied as a result. [99280]

The Environment Agency has not initiated prosecutions against any companies specifically as a result of endocrine disrupting impacts on the environment. Prosecutions may have been initiated in relation to substances which are potential endocrine disrupters but, owing to the large number of such substances and the level of uncertainty surrounding many of them, figures would be difficult to compile and would involve disproportionate cost.