§ Mr. Gordon Prentice
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what caused the release into the atmosphere of material being processed at Solrec at Heysham; and what action he has taken to prevent a recurrence. 
§ Mr. Clappison
On 19 August 1996 there was an unauthorised release from the process for the application of steam distillation to produce solid residues at Solrec in Heysham. This process is used for solvent recovery. The unauthorised release was caused by a runaway exothermic552W reaction in a vessel, which caused pressure to build up in the vessel, resulting in a controlled release via a safety device.
As a result of the incident, the Environment Agency served a prohibition notice on Solrec Ltd. under part I of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. This prohibits the company from operating the process until it has produced a procedure to demonstrate that the process can be performed without producing exothermic decomposition of the residues.
I further understand from the Environment Agency that Solrec intends to abandon the particular process which gave rise to the unauthorised release.