§ Mr. McGrady
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in relation to plutonium pollution arising from processing activities at the Sellafield Mixed Oxide Plant, in respect of the hazards posed to(a) people, (b) flora and (c) fauna in Northern Ireland. 
§ Mr. George Howarth
Lord Dubs, then Minister for the Environment in Northern Ireland, and his officials were kept informed by Ministerial colleagues in Whitehall regarding the commissioning and full operation of the Mixed Oxide Plant (MOX Plant), including projected environmental impact on the people, flora and fauna. In particular, during early 1997 and 1998 the Environment Agency held three consultation exercises regarding the commissioning and operation of the MOX plant and the variations to Certificates of Authorisation to dispose of gaseous and liquid wastes from the Sellafield site.
§ Mr. McGrady
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will establish a study into the environmental effects of the operation of Sellafield on the(a) flora, (b) fauna and (c) fisheries of Northern Ireland. 
§ Mr. George Howarth
Responsibility for the subject in question has been delegated to the Environment and Heritage Service under its acting chief executive, Mr. J. R. Lamont.
I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.
Letter from J. R. Lamont to Mr. Eddie McGrady, dated 3 May 2000:As Acting Chief Executive of the Environment and Heritage Service (EHS), I am responsible for operational aspects of protection of the environment on behalf of the Department of the Environment. I am responding to the Parliamentary Question you put down on 26 April asking for a study into the environmental effects of the operation of Sellafield on the flora, fauna and fisheries of Northern Ireland.289WIn Northern Ireland, a comprehensive monitoring programme which is operated by EHS's Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate, has been in place since the early 1970s. The programme is reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that any changes in discharges from the Sellafield Plant are carefully assessed.Discharges into the Irish Sea from the Sellafield Plant are authorised by the Environment Agency. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture (CEFAS), formerly the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food (MAFF) has been sampling and analysing seawater, fish, shellfish, seaweed and sediments in the Irish Sea since the early 1950s. In Northern Ireland, our Inspectorate arranges for samples of seaweed, sediments, fish. nephrops, mussels and winkles to be collected quarterly and forwarded to the CEFAS Research laboratory at Lowestoft. The seaweeds are collected in the Ards Peninsula area and at Portrush and the marine life samples are obtained as far as possible from commercial landings, at Kilkeel and Portavogie. Sediments samples are collected from Northern Ireland's 5 marine loughs.The Northern Ireland results are published annually in a report entitled "Radioactivity in Food and the Environment" issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and also in the Northern Ireland Abstract of Statistics. The levels of radioactivity measured indicate that they are of negligible radiological significance.In addition to this programme, the Inspectorate monitors with gamma dose rate in air over intertidal sediments in each district council area which has a coastline. The results indicate minimal radioactivity deposition and are consistent with normal background levels.We have also undertaken a number of collaborative studies with the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland and University College Dublin since 1990. A copy of the joint report on Carlingford Lough is available in the Library of the House of Commons.I can report that on average, people in Northern Ireland receive 2500 microsieverts of radiation a year from all natural and artificial sources; 50 per cent. is due to exposure to radon in the home. 12 per cent. from medical exposure and nuclear discharges accounts for less than 0.1 per cent.In view of the comprehensive information already available from the monitoring programme there are no plans to establish a separate study at this time. I can assure you, however, that the Department will continue with the monitoring programme in view of local concerns.