§ Mr. Chaytor
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many spent fuel flasks sent to BNFL's Sellafield plant by United Kingdom or overseas customers in the last three years have had levels of surface contamination over the regulatory limit of 4 Bq/cm2; how many empty spent fuel flasks being returned from Sellafield to its customers have had levels of surface contamination above this limit; what levels of contamination have been detected in each of these flasks; which customers were involved; when he was first informed that regulatory limits were being exceeded; and what action he has taken. 
§ Ms Glenda Jackson
[holding answer 10 June 1998]UK operators measure non-fixed surface contamination on spent fuel flasks by wiping a large number (typically ~60 on fuel flasks used by UK power stations) of discrete areas of the surface with swabs and measuring and recording the radioactivity removed by the swab in terms of Derived Working Levels (DWLs). 1 DWL corresponds to 4Bq/cm2 [...] when certain pessimistic assumptions (that only 10 per cent. of available non-fixed contamination is picked up by the swab and that exactly 300 cm2 has been wiped). In practice swab pick-up may exceed ten per cent. and the area wiped may exceed 300 cm2 and thus DWL measurements may overestimate the true contamination by a factor of up to 10. Any reading exceeding of 1 DWL is recorded.
Between January 1995 and the end of the first quarter 1998, 11 flasks arrived at Sellafield from UK power stations with in excess of 1 DWL of non-fixed contamination on one or more areas. During the same 43W period 42 empty flasks were recorded as arriving at UK power stations from Sellafield with in excess of 1 DWL of non-fixed contamination on one or more areas.
Four incidences of flasks with contamination in excess of 1 DWL were recorded on flasks arriving at Barrow or Dunkirk from European power stations, en-route to Sellafield. However, these flasks were cleaned on discovery and no contamination in excess of 1 DWL was subsequently recorded on arrival at Sellafield. Information is not available on the monitoring of ex-Sellafield empty flasks arriving at European power stations. However, 8 incidences are recorded of non-fixed contamination in excess of 1 DWL at Barrow or Dunkirk.
In none of the above cases were there any significant radiological consequences to workers or the general public.
To put these figures into perspective, there were a total of ~5,400 shipments to and from UK power stations and ~300 to and from European power stations during this period.
There were no incidences of contamination in excess of 1 DWL on the 162 flask shipments to and from Japan during the three years in question. Data are not available of the results of monitoring on arrival of empty flasks in Japan.
In the majority of cases when in excess of 1 DWL was recorded the actual levels would be below 4Bq/cm2 due to the pessimistic method of assessing non-fixed contamination. Only when in excess of 10 DWL is recorded is there a reasonable chance that the actual non-fixed contamination level may exceed 4 Bq/cm2. This occurred on four occasions for UK shipments and on three occasions for European shipments during the period in question.
The Department in co-operation with the Health and Safety Executive has published instances of non-fixed contamination in excess of 10 DWLs arising on domestic spent fuel flasks annually since 1995.
One event in each of the years 19951, 19962 has been reported and one will be recorded in the 1997 review (to be published).
To summarise, 7 flask shipments out of nearly 6,000 are likely to have been contaminated to levels in excess of the 4 Bq cm2 limit over the past three years.1 Radiological Consequences Resulting from Accidents and Incidents involving the Transport of Radioactive Materials in the UK–1995 Review, National Radiological Protection Board Memorandum NRPB-M662, March 1996.2 Radiological Consequences Resulting from Accidents and Incidents involving the Transport of Radioactive Materials in the UK–1996 Review, National Radiological Protection Board Memorandum NRPB-M862, November 1997.
§ Mr. Baker
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many flights have taken place since 1995 in which spent nuclear fuel was carried within United Kingdom airspace; what were the places of origin and destination in each case; and what was the volume carried in each case. 
§ Ms Glenda Jackson
[holding answer 11 June 1998]There has been only one flight of spent nuclear fuel in UK airspace since 1995. That shipment involved flying a44W small amount of spent fuel (containing ~4.5 kg of uranium) from Tbilisi in Georgia to RAF Kinloss for onward transmission to Dounreay by road.
§ Mr. Baker
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will list the incidents where(a) chemicals and (b) radioactive material have been lost overboard in (i) UK waters and (ii) elsewhere from UK-registered ships since February 1997, giving for each instance the location, the chemicals or materials involved and the amounts subsequently recovered. 
§ Ms Glenda Jackson
[holding answer 11 June 1998]The information is not available in the form requested. However, the table gives a summary of packages containing dangerous or harmful goods found in UK waters between February and December 1997. This information has been provided by the Advisory Committee on the Protection of the Sea (ACOPS).
Date Source Nature of incident Location February 1997 unknown Three 25 litre drums found containing hydrogen peroxide North West Scotland February 1997 ship Leopard 40 foot container of charged batteries lost North Irish Sea February 1997 unknown 6 drums of phosphoric acid and hydrogen peroxide (954 litres in total) found Tremadog Bay,Wales March 1997 unknown 5x5 foot container of 1,000 litres tetramethyl lead found Isle of Mull April 1997 unknown 10 litre package of phosphine fumigant found North Sea April 1997 unknown Two 45 gallon drums found containing 205 litres of an undetermined substance Mallaig
I further understand from my Department's Marine Pollution Control Unit that in February and March this year around 25 drums containing an undetermined toxic substance were washed ashore along the south coast of the UK from Dorset to East Sussex.