Answers sought over data loss

You may have seen reports in the media last week about how a memory stick containing information regarding Hartlepool’s nuclear power station was lost.

For those who haven’t seen it, the story is that an official from the Office for Nuclear Regulation, while attending a conference in India, lost a memory stick.

The memory stick contained information about the power station, including a safety assessment that was undertaken in the wake of the Fukushima radiation scare last year.

I’m sure everybody would agree that ensuring the safety and security of all of our power stations, but especially the nuclear power station on our doorstep, where many of the town’s residents work, is of absolute importance.

Anything which compromises that safety and security in any way is a concern and should be thoroughly investigated to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.

The fact that such data was lost overseas is an added concern, and complicates matters still further.

It will be that much more difficult to try to retrieve the memory stick from India than if it had been lost in the UK.

People in the town will rightly feel concerned and I hope that the Government will issue clear information about the matter immediately.

The chances of the memory stick falling into the wrong hands are slim and shouldn’t keep people awake at night, but the possibilities of this aren’t exactly nil either.

In these circumstances, the Government should be doing all that it can to ensure that this data is retrieved as quickly as possible.

I understand that a lot of the information contained on the memory stick was already in the public domain. But in the media reports last week, a spokesman for the office for Nuclear Regulation stated that there was no “significantly sensitive” data lost.

That vague and ambiguous statement does beg the question as to what else was on that stick, and if it hadn’t been published somebody had judged it to be important to the safe and secure operation of the power station.

I have written to the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, to express my concerns, seek reassurances and ensure that questions are answered.

I also expressed my concern in the House of Commons on Monday.

Why on earth was the data allowed to leave the country? What precisely is on that memory stick? What is the Government doing to work with the local authorities in India in a bid to retrieve the memory stick?

I hope to receive answers quickly to ensure that Hartlepool residents are reassured.