Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Former NIPA Chemical Site - EA answer some key questions

I am visting the site this week but in the meantime on behalf of a constituent have asked Steve Molyneux at the Environment Agency to answer some more recent queries I have received.

‘I have seen children playing on and around this site, ‘surely there could be a notice served to Mr Morgan to get this site made secure’

Reports that children are accessing and playing on the site is obviously a real concern. To ensure that the site is adequately secured the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) have already served formal enforcement notices on the landowner(s), Lockgate Mount, Amcis and Wymborne requiring them put in place measures to restrict access. I’ve copied Mike Sebastian (HSE principal inspector) into this email. He is the HSE lead on this issue and should be able to add more detail here.

‘The water from the site is pouring into Lottice Brook and seeping into the land around this area’.

The Environment Agency continue to have 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 the brook and have also served an enforcement notice on the landowner Lock Gate Mount Ltd to improve surface water management on site to protect the brook. We are still awaiting an action plan from the landowner on what they intend to do and continue our investigation into environmental offences at the site.

‘You and the EA have admitted this site is contaminated and still nothing has been done, why’, ‘this site was sealed and a notice placed on it that the land had not to be disturbed for 20 years, why did it happen?’

The site is contaminated due to the sites former use as a chemical works, however hasn’t been ‘legally’ determined as ‘contaminated land’ . The Environment Agency continue to gather sample results to understand the sites overall impact on the brook and are in discussion with Hyndburn Council to establish if the site should be determined as contaminated land. If it is proved that the site is having a significant impact on the brook then it could be. This is Hyndburn’s decision. It will be the case that this site has more than likely been causing some pollution of the brook for many decades. However, the lack of adequate surface water management is certainly not making the current situation any better.

Separately, I’m not aware that this site was ever ‘sealed’ or of any notice placed on it that the land had not to be disturbed for 20 years? If the land is designated as contaminated the responsibility remains with the owners to ensure that people and the environment are protected.

Oswaldtwistle residents are also concerned about the strong smell of chemicals which are becoming more apparent daily

The site is contaminated due to the site’s former use as a chemical works and may be generating odours. We’d recommend that residents report these concerns to Hyndburn’s environmental health department in the first instance. In these circumstances where the chemical works is closed and demolished the Environment Agency don’t have a role where we can investigate and look into odour nuisance. This would be the responsibility of the local authority.

I would like to arrange a meeting with you and the head of EA to get some answers to this environmental

We are more than happy to meet with you and your constituents at your convenience. Nevertheless, there are a number of authorities around the table dealing with the Nook Lane site and we would suggest that it would be productive to meet as a group?

Please 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 responsibility of the landowner to ensure that both people and the environment are protected. Nevertheless, we are not anticipating that all the issues associated with past contamination will be resolved quickly.

If I can provide any more detail or assistance, or you wish to visit the site with our officers, please let me know.