The lorry fire on route to rattlechain

I have previously outlined how “the toxic trail” formerly delivered phosphorus contaminated waste, as well as barrels of waste from the Albright and Wilson factory in Trinity Street. In the previous post, I also outlined how this had affected the canal network further afield. When this hazardous and environmentally damaging practice finally appeared to cease around 1974, the operation to deposit toxic and harmful hazardous material from the same source simply continued via road haulage. It also appears evidentially that this practice had been going on at the site on an ad hoc basis right from the start of tipping there however.

The nature of the material- still apparently containing white phosphorus AFTER the company had claimed that phosphorus production had discontinued at their factory  site, shows that this was a mute red herring. WHITE PHOSPHORUS WAS CLEARLY STILL BEING TIPPED AT RATTLECHAIN LAGOON.

The article below appeared in the May 16th 1976 edition of the Sandwell Evening Mail. It details how a barrel of phosphorus had caught fire en route to a “Tividale tip”.


The text isn’t very clear I’m afraid but I’ve typed the whole piece below and then I will make comment on some interesting quotes and claims within it.


Sandwell Mail Reporter.

An official enquiry has been launched into the incident in which highly combustible phosphorus waste caught fire in Oldbury while being transported by open lorry to a tip.

A full scale police and fire brigade alert was started when a 40 gallon drum containing the waste burst into flames. It was being driven through Oldbury to a Tividale tip from the Langley works of chemical manufacturers Albright and Wilson Ltd.

Mr Ken Harvey the county council’s waste disposal officer said “I would not consider this a satisfactory method of transporting such materials.

I am aware of the Albright and Wilson waste tipping operations but I am not aware that waste is being handled in this manner.

We intend to pursue this matter through discussions with the company because after this incident one must accept that present transportation arrangements are not entirely satisfactory.

Sentro waste disposal officers were sent to the scene of the incident in Shidas Lane, Oldbury.


There they met fire officers and safety officials from the company who had earlier used special fire fighting equipment in the blaze.

Mr Harvey said the firm had laid down procedures for transporting such materials.

It is normally regarded as safe to move such materials in sealed drums as Albright’s were doing, but the incident has highlighted a weakness in the rather loose legislation which exists,” he said.

We don’t have the power to impose conditions on companies moving their waste and we have only limited power controlling disposal of wastes.


“But under new legislation to take effect,  sites like the Tividale one will have to be licensed with councils and comply with stringent conditions on tipping and type of materials.”

Mr Harvey said inquiries had indicated there were a number of factors which had led to yesterday’s incident.

They would be discussing it with the firm to see if a more satisfactory method of transporting wastes could be found.

The companies divisional secretary Mr Raymond Woodhead said the material concerned was completely safe as long as it was not exposed to air.


They were carrying out a full investigation to see how and why the drum ignited.

“This material is no more dangerous than thousands of other substances carried by road every day- in fact it is no more dangerous than a petrol tanker or a private car , and when it is dumped underground it remains safe, ” he said. “

The first alarming statement in this article is that it appears to suggest that this highly flammable and toxic material was being carried in a “open lorry”.

The “Tividale tip” is not named, though the mention of Shidas Lane is interesting. Of course it was going to rattlechain, but this appears to suggest the route being taken from Trinity Street. The council’s refuse tip is located in Shidas Lane, as was the Apollo Lagoon owned by Accles and Pollock- but neither of these are in Tividale, and would not be used for phosphorus waste disposal in any case. This shows that this 40 gallon drum had not got very far from the works before setting on fire- threatening not only the driver but anyone breathing in the load of gassing venom en route.

The pictured barrels are identical to those I have seen deposited in the lagoon, and it is consistent with documented evidence of the fact that these barrels were simply “rolled into” the lagoon or even “sunk by rifle fire” on pallets!

Limited PPE is being worn but the gauntlets and spades indicate that they were fully aware of the hazard involved- something not afforded to any member of the public caught up at the scene- let alone any unfortunate wildlife in the wet tip!


I am fully aware of this useless bloody idiot and his role at the county council not being fit for purpose.

“I would not consider this a satisfactory method of transporting such materials. “- no shit Sherlock but do you therefore consider it satisfactory to simply dump it in the open air just a mile down the road?

He then blames “loose legislation” which in some aspects is probably true, but at this point in history the deposit of poisonous wastes act 1972 had been passed, as well as the Control of Pollution Act 1974– so implementation was entirely on his watch.

That he considered such transport as “safe” is part of the problem, though like all apologists, he points to something in the future down the line that will somehow wave a magic wand and make it all “safer” still- this of course implies the site licensing that he and others approved of and would become waste disposal licence SL31 passed in January 1978.

“stringent conditions on tipping and type of materials”- The main criticism of his approved licence under his watch and the fools who approved the licence was that it did nothing of the sort and was completely vague- and still allowed the deposit of the same toxic hazardous waste- that no doubt was still being considered “safe” when dumped under water.

Raymond Woodhead.

His name appears in frequent Albright and Wilson correspondence at this time- and the site licence application. Like all other Albright and Wilson officials he is a liar with several statements in this article. It is not and never will be “safe” unless exposed to air. This absolute rot implies they were unaware of their Long Harbour pollution fiasco and the environmental disaster this release caused in and under waterLIAR WOODHEAD.

Comparing this material’s transport to a petrol tanker or car is another red herring , but not dissimilar from what other works managers like the liar Peter Bloore would state about “toothpaste” and calcium phosphate in the waste at Rattlechain. Liars of the chemical industry thrive on attempting to downplay their activities and harmful substances by attempting to compare them to mundane and “harmless” materials- as do so called “environmental consultants” attempting to gloss over contaminated land for that matter.

“and when it is dumped underground it remains safe, ” he said. “

Of all the idiotic statements this one really does take the piss. Is he stating here that this material was not only being dumped into rattlechain, but also into the “disused” mineshafts that mysteriously his deceitful company appeared to know little about?

What about groundwater? What about wildlife and the soil being poisoned? What about the toxicity of white phosphorus and its toxic breakdown products systemically damaging to human health ?

I have no doubt that once all the nasty stuff had been scooped up and put into another barrel under water it would soon have been allowed on its way to rattlechain without further delay to poison the birds there.



I have looked in detail about the waste disposal license approval and what happened next HERE.

Nothing changed in the matter of barrels being dumped- as another fire incident at the site demonstrated in 1989. Once again we see vagueness from local officials, promises of investigations and looking to the future from the company.

Once I came on the scene in 1999 and started reporting just how damaging the practice of depositing waste at this site was, they once again just employed the same deliberate lies and deceptions about the “safety” of the chemicals under water.

They now continue in the same vein with their “geotextile membrane” and sand and crushed brick burial under water, as the gas beneath rises to the surface.

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