The environmental group Greenpeace said pollution statistics collected under an international convention show that Britain dumped more toxic chemicals, such as heavy metals and PCBs, in the sea than the other 11 signatories to the agreement, which include Germany and France.
Tim Birch, a Greenpeace campaigner, said the figures would be released from a meeting of Europe's environment ministers taking place in Paris this week, to discuss sea dumping of industrial and radioactive waste.
He said the figures for 1990 on direct dumping into the seas off western Europe and emission into rivers and estuaries showed that Britain discharged twice as much zinc and cadmium and four times more PCBs than the other countries.
'The UK discharges more of every substance except lead,' he said.
Data in the past on sea dumping had not included discharges into the seas off western Britain and the Government had used the lower figures to claim the country was not a major polluter of the marine environment, he added.
Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth, the Marine Conservation Society, the World Wide Fund for Nature and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds have joined a coalition to lobby for the rapid phase out within a fixed timescale of all discharges of potentially harmful substances.Reuse content