WHAT DID WE ASK?
“How many sites in the UK does the Environment Agency know contain toxic white phosphorus? What are the locations of these sites and how many have been successfully remediated to reduce any chance of release of this highly dangerous chemical into the environment?”
WHY DID WE ASK THIS
In order to make an informed opinion of potential remediation options for the site we wanted to know if there were any similar sites in the UK- or potentially any more sites where wildfowl could be being poisoned by white phosphorus.
WHAT DID THEY KNOW?.
The initial response from the EA did not answer the question that we had asked, refering to land under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act.
“From the work we have done to date under Part2A we are not aware of any sites where white phosphorous is present and is posing unacceptable risks to the environment. We have not had to deal with any significant pollutant linkages involving this chemical at any of our Special Sites.”
We made it quite clear in a lengthy reply that we knew about Rattlechain lagoon and a site at Strode Road at Portishead which both contained white phosphorus that the EA did know about.
“As a result we have now instigated a wider search encompassing not only our Part 2A files but those relating to Environmental permits.
Request for information on the disposal of white phosphorous to land:
The Environment Agency (EA) can confirm that it holds information relating
to the disposal of white phosphorous to land for specific sites in England
and Wales as follows:
Rattlechain Lagoon is owned by Rhodia plc, but was originally purchased in 1948 by Albright and Wilson Ltd who are now a wholly owned subsidiary of Rhodia. A waste disposal licence was issued in January 1978 to control the waste landfill activities taking place at the site. This licence allowed them to deposit material from their production activities, mainly arising from the Oldbury works. Waste types allowed by the licence
includes elemental phosphorus (which would include white phosphorous) principally as a contaminant of calcium phosphate sludge and other wastes.
The EA does not hold records of materials deposited on the site between 1948 and the issue of the licence in 1978. The site was formally closed in March 2006 and no waste material has been deposited in the lagoon since then. However, the licence is still in force and Rhodia are still required to comply with appropriate conditions and monitor the site in accordance with a Closure Plan. The purpose of the licence is to ensure the activities covered by the licence do not pollute the environment, or cause harm to human health. Risk based inspections are done by EA officers to ensure security is maintained, and water levels controlled at the site.
As you are aware, although the site is not open to public access, it is possible for wildfowl to access the waste lagoon. Various actions have been and are being taken by Rhodia to try and limit access by wildfowl and restrict contact with the wastes at the bottom of that lagoon.
This information was an “official line” piece of information, which really didn’t contain all of the facts concerning the site- especially the history gaps of waste disposal.
“As a result of our extended searches we have identified an additional site in the North West which may be relevant to your enquiry. The site is known as Knowsley Industrial Park and came to our attention as a result of a planning consultation from Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council. We understand that permission was granted to redevelop this site and that remediation did take place. Any requests for further information should be addressed to Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council, who are responsible for that site and who hold the respective planning register and associated records.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
Following this request we asked another of Knowsley Borough council concerning this site to find out more. To view this click here.