§ Mr. Neil Turner
To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what proportion of aircraft using UK airports use depleted uranium as ballast; and what assessment he has made of the potential risk to health in the event of a crash. 
§ Mr. Mullin
Data are not collected in the form requested. However, it is known that early Boeing 747s, of which about 550 were constructed up until 1981, used depleted uranium counterbalance weights in their control surfaces.
A risk to health could arise only in the unlikely event that a crash, followed by a sufficiently severe and long lasting fire, were to cause aerosolisation and dispersal of the material. It has been established from the condition of the recovered counterweights and the evidence of fire damage following the recent Korean B747 aircraft crash that there has been no airborne dispersal of uranium from the crash site. Sixteen of the 20 counterweights used in the aircraft have so far been recovered.