The Gower Tip site located along the edge of the Old mainline Canal was formerly an Albright and Wilson disposal site operating under licence SL32, and was granted at the same time as the rattlechain licence by the former West Midlands county council.
In a previous request to Sandwell council, we had established that the licence for this site was surrendered by Albright and Wilson in 1994- during which time they were the regulatory authority. (READ THE LICENCE SL32 HERE)
As part of the investigation into this site we found the original notes discussed by the waste disposal sub committee in 1977 which refered to “radioactive wastes ” having been previously deposited at the site. This page can be read below.
What were these radioactive wastes?
WHAT DID WE ASK AND WHAT DID THEY KNOW?
We asked the following questions of The Environment Agency.
(i) What type and quantity of radioactive waste was found and removed from the Gower tip site,Tividale formerly owned by Albright and Wilson and now Rhodia before or after the site license SL32 expired in 1994? Do the agency hold any records of this event?
(ii) Who removed this waste and where was it taken to or tested to identify the isotopes involved, and was this done independently?
(iii) Were the Local authority Sandwell Council, who previously regulated the site prior to 1996 aware of this radioactive contamination and did they inform local residents about it?
Sandwell council have commented “The Gower Tip has been assigned an inspection priority category of 3, i.e. contaminants may be present but are unlikely to have an
unacceptable impact on key targets. The site has yet to be inspected under the strategy and therefore no determination has been made in respect of its condition; it is therefore not possible to say at this stage when this site will be subject to a more
I understand that this site is also known by the Environment Agency
as EAWML 40803.
The EA replied to all 3 questions in the which received the following response.
“RE: RADIOACTIVE WASTE CONTAINED / REMOVED FROM ALBRIGHT AND WILSON GOWER TIP
Further to your enquiry dated 19 October 2010, we have looked in the Gower Landfill file and can find no reference to the removal of radioactive waste from the site. It should be noted that Albright and Wilson applied for, and was issued with, a waste disposal licence under the Control of Pollution Act 1974. Section 30(5) of the Act has the effect of excluding radioactive wastes from the licensing controls.
It is therefore not surprising there is no mention of the movement of radioactive wastes on the site licence file. It follows that we also have no record of who moved it, to where it was moved or any details of tests done on it. If the quantities of material were small enough they may have been moved under an exemption order in which case there may be no authorisation or records of disposal kept under the radioactive substances legislation either.
We have found 2 references to radioactive waste on the Gower Landfill file as follows:-
09 June 1976 – A letter from the Chief Waste Disposal Officer of the West Midlands County Council to Sandwell Planning Department includes advice that low activity radioactive waste has been deposited at the Gower Landfill in accordance with an authorisation from the Department of the Environment under the Radioactive Substances Act 1960. There were no further details.
22 December 1977 – A report to the Waste Disposal and Pollution Control Committee of the West Midlands County Council includes reference to the waste types already deposited at the site as including radioactive wastes. No further details were given. Following your conversation with Dave Whitford on 4 November 2010, we think you may have already seen this document.
The final entry on the Gower Landfill file was made in 1994 with the surrender of the licence. Please note that the correct reference for this site is EAWML 40910.
We do not know if Sandwell Council have any knowledge of the event referred to and would advise you to contact them directly for the information you require.
We apologise for the delayed response, but we wanted to be sure there were no further records available to us.
A site inspection has not been carried out in relation to your request for information. This information is provided under the conditions for use of data or information attached.”
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
This information was not particularly informative, and yet again invites the requester to approach another authority, in this case Sandwell council, for information.
If someone has bought a house near to this site, “the radioactive wastes” admitted to have been contained in the site could still be there, buried below ground. We wonder what information residents were given on purchase concerning the Gower Tip’s radioactive history?