HC Deb 02 June 1998 vol 313 cc182-3W
Mr. Hancock

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what research his Department has(a) commissioned and (b) evaluated regarding the use and threat of depleted uranium. [43054]

Mr. Spellar

A detailed review of the environmental impact of depleted uranium on the Kirkcudbright and Eskmeals ranges was undertaken by an independent environmental consultant (W. S. Atkins) in 1995. This review concluded that the radiation doses and associated risks from exposure to both the public and the environment were extremely low.

Additionally, a review being conducted within MOD of current developments and trends in munitions may have future clinical implications for the treatment of injured servicemen or women. The medical issues arising from the use of depleted uranium based ammunition against our own forces form part of the review. MOD is not conducting any experimental work on the short or long term effects of depleted uranium on humans, animals or the environment.

Studies are also being carried out by the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency to establish the rate of corrosion of depleted uranium in the marine environment.

Research and development work has been carried out on two tank munitions programmes which use depleted uranium, CHARM 1 and CHARM 3. These anti-tank rounds were developed under commercial contracts at the following locations: Royal Ordance facilities at Birtley and Featherstone, AWE Aldermaston; the former AWE Cardiff, and MOD ranges at Eskmeals and Kirkcudbright.

I am withholding information on any other MOD research programmes involving depleted uranium under exemption 1 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.