EIR request to Home Office re Westminster Tracer Gas Trials

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Apart from the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Information Commissioner also regulates the Environmental Information Regulations 2004, which are a result of European Union law i.e. Article 7 (2) of the European Directive (2003/4/EC)

There seems to be less scope for a Government Department to wriggle out of providing EIR request information, compared with an FOIA request on the same topic. All the usual "Sir Humphrey" excuses seem to have a public interest test, so there are no absolute exemptions.

We shall see if Gordon Brown's vague promises of a more open and transparent Government mean anything to the supposedly re-organised Home Office, or whether they will obstruct our EIR request for basic information about the Tracer Gas Trials which are meant to have started today in the Marylebone / Westminster areas of London, as part of some Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear defence experiments being conducted, not on a test range, but in a real urban city environment.

This basic information, such as exactly what the unnamed , allegedly harmless Tracer Gases (plural) are, what quantities are to be released into the environment, and the Environmental Impact Assessment, etc. should, according to the Environmental Information Regulations have been proactively published already.

Home Office Direct Communications Unit 2 Marsham Street London SW1P 4DF

Email: public.enquiries@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

Sunday 20th May 2007

Environmental Information Regulations 2004 request regarding the Marylebone/Westminster Tracer Gas Trials.

Dear Sirs,

Please disclose and publish the following information under the Environmental Information Regulations 2004:

With reference to the Tracer Gas Trials in Marylebone, Westminster London, starting on 20th May 2007, as described in Home Office Minister Tony McNulty's statement to Parliament on 17th May 2007:


1) Please disclose and publish the Environmental Impact Assessment regarding these Marylebone / Westminster Tracer Gas Trials.

2) What exactly are the particular "non-toxic, odourless gases" (plural) which will be released into the environment ?

3) Are the Marylebone / Westminster Tracer Gas Trials intending to release Sulphur HexaFluoride into the atmosphere ?

This gas was used in the London Underground trials mentioned in the Written Statement by The Secretary of State for Transport (Mr. Douglas Alexander) on the 15th March 2007


which are presumably the same ones mentioned to in the Home Office statement as well.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Sulphur HexaFluoride is the most potent "greenhouse gas" ever evaluated.


i.e. over 15,000 times the Global Warming effect of the same amount of Carbon Dioxide over 20 years, and with over 22,000 times the effect over 100 years.

3) Are any other "greenhouse gases" or "ozone layer destroying" gases such as ChloroFluoroCarbons (CFCs) like Freon to be used as Tracer Gases ? If so, what are the details ?

4) Are any of these Tracer Gases radioactive ? If so, what are the details ?

5) Approximately what volume or mass of these Tracer Gases is to be released into the environment ?

5) What is the anticipated extent of the area which will be exposed to the Tracer Gases ?

6) Are any Aerosols to be released into the environment as part of these trials ?

7) If any Aerosols are to be released, do these contain any natural biological organisms, or genetically modified organisms, or synthetic genetic sequence markers ?

Please provide the information ideally by publishing it on your public world wide website, or alternatively by email.

Ideally this should *NOT* be in the form of a "copy and paste" locked Adobe .pdf file, or similar, attachment.

In the unlikely event that this information is not already available in a standard electronic format, then please explain the reasons why, when you provide the information in another format.

If you are proposing to make a charge for providing the information requested, please provide full details in advance, together with an explanation of any proposed charge

If you decide to withhold any of the information requested you should clearly explain why you have done so in your response, by reference to the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 legislation.

If your decision to withhold is based upon an evaluation of the public interest, then you should clearly explain which public interests you have considered, and why you have decided that the public interest in maintaining the exception(s) outweighs the public interest in releasing the information.

I look forward to receiving the information requested as soon as possible, and in any event within 20 working days of receipt of this email. i.e. by Tuesday 19th June 2007

Yours faithfully

[name, address, email]

1 Comment

Still nothing in the email or snail, and today is the 20th working day

There is a Written Answer to a Question by Tom Watson MP:

Written answers
Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Home Department

Tom Watson (West Bromwich East, Labour)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the statement of 17 May 2007, Official Report, column 46WS, on Westminster tracer gas trials, what non-toxic gases were used in the Westminster area as part of the Department's Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Science and Technology Programme.

Tony McNulty (Harrow East, Labour) |

holding answer 11 June 2007

The non-toxic gases used in the trial belong to the family of chemicals known as cyclic perfluorocarbons. The actual gases released are: perfluoro methyl cyclohexane; meta perfluoro dimethyl cyclohexane; and para perfluoro dimethyl cyclohexane.

Note that this does not say how much of these Greenhouse Gas CFCs are planned to have been released into the atmosphere as part of these trials.

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