Thursday, 30 August 2012

Pollution at Nook Lane Chemical Site

I have written to the Environment Agency following a video that has been posited online and sent to my office. (WARNING: The language is not pleasant.)

I have posted the response below form the EA and also discussed the matter with Hyndburn Council who are doing an excellent job. Things are moving forward and the two authorities should be thanked as this is a very problematic site.

I will continue to work hard for the residents of Oswaldtwistle on this issue and have already visited the site with the various agencies.

There have been queries about Lancashire County Council but they have had less to do with this as it is pollution and contamination issue at the moment; waste is the owners responsibility and the effects of it, flies etc... and Environmental Health issue (HBC). HBC are the lead agency as it falls within the Borough and contamination is an issue for the EA.

If you live in Oswaldtwsitle your County Councillor is most likely to be Peter Britcliffe.

Below is the response to the video that I have received;
28 August 2012 15:11

Thanks Graham

Although Blackley’s Waste has now been removed from the site, sadly it’s not the end of the Environment Agency’s or other regulatory organisations involvement here at Nook lane. The site remains a former chemical works and represents a hazard to both the environment and people. The video shows contaminated surface water associated with the historic use of the site and a number of more recent excavated areas. Information we are aware of following our inspections. I’ve looked through the video and there are an number of points to pick up and clarify. Most importantly, although the waste has been cleared the site is a formal chemical works, it remains hazardous and we would not wish that residents to be encouraged to enter for their own interest. The landowner may consider that this could be trespass also.

Access to the site and the hazard represented by the excavated areas.This is a cause of concern and as a consequence the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have served formal enforcement notices on the landowner, Lockgate Mount Ltd requiring them put in place measures to restrict access. I’ve copied Mike Sebastian (HSE principal inspector) into this email. The HSE lead on this issue and should be able to add more detail here.

Contaminated water and site drainageSurface water on site is contaminated due to the sites former use as a chemical works (the black water). The Environment Agency has concerns that surface water management on site is poor and drainage from the site is reaching the local stream, Lottice brook. As a consequence we have put in place a sampling and monitoring regime to determine the risk the site presents to water in Lottice brook and requested that the Landowner Lockgate Mount Ltd improve the situation on site to protect the stream. We are still awaiting an action plan from the landowner, if this is not forthcoming we may serve formal enforcement notices.

We are awaiting a full suite of results to determine the sites overall impact on the brook and currently talking with Hyndburn Council to determine if site should be designated as contaminated land.

Please be rest assured that we take this matter seriously, however this is a complex site with a history of chemical production and associated contamination over decades. It is the landowners responsibility to ensure that people and the environment are protected. Nevertheless, we are not anticipating that all the issues associated with past contamination will be resolved quickly.

I hope this answers the questions you have had following the video? If I can provide any more detail or assistance, or you wish to visit the site with our officers, please let me know.

Steve Molyneux
Environment Manager, Lancashire