Albright’s toxic archives #17 Oldbury under fire #1

The nature of the unnatural chemical materials stored at the site in Trinity Street Oldbury make it a major hazard to avoid. Unfortunately for those living around this spralling site, along with the vile smells and putrid pea supor substance mists, the main risks to human health remained the threat of fire, as well as explosions.

Numerous articles on fires that occurred, putting local people at personal risk, as well as the hapless bribed workforce of Albright and Wilson are not hard to find. The first of these is revealed in The Birmingham Daily Gazette of 11th August 1952 and concerns the main chemical which of course we know all about- white phosphorus.

Off site risks of course would be toxic gases being released  as well as damage from phosphoric acid forming in contact with mucous membranes.

Less than a year later, another fire on the site was also recorded in the same paper on 3rd March 1953. This fire involved damage to a single storey building and the mention of “flares” is interesting (not the baggy trousers). These were no doubt part of the Government work undertaken for the Navy by this company- just a covered up risk to which many people locally were unaware.

Fast forward to 1959 and the article in The Birmingham Daily Post of 24th March reveals that breathing apparatus was used by firemen to put out a sawdust fire.

On 7th September of the same year, and again in The Birmingham Daily Post, a more serious “chemical fumes peril” fire is recorded. This involved firemen putting their lives at risk from three brigades to fight a phosphorus pentasulphide fire at the works.

The article describes how an “artificial fog” reached Oldbury Town centre- in reality a dangerous breakdown product acid mix from this chemical weapons precursor that would have affected anyone exposed to it.

The pentasulphide reaction with water produces the toxic gas Hydrogen sulphide as well as phosphoric acid.

P4S10 + 16 H2O → 4 H3PO4 + 10 H2S

It is not clear how firemen therefore fought this fire, but water would definitely NOT have been a safe option.

From these four examples, I’m sure there are many more from this period of time which were covered up and not reported, one can see how people living in Oldbury were being exposed to unnecessary risk. They were also being left out of pocket in rates by having to pay for a fire service to fight these chemical fires, and all to make  one company which claimed to be part of the community a shed load of dough.

What they didn’t need of course, they dumped in places like Rattlechain lagoon and the Gower Tip- which also produced fires and put local people at risk.

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Albright’s toxic archives #16 A phosphorus ride and Sikh

You have to hand it to Albright and Wilson in that they continued to devise novel ways in which to kill off and maim their employees, as well as offer a string of smelly and toxic assaults on the wider community of Oldbury. If it wasn’t with chemical explosions and gas leaks it was with rotting jaws and asbestos.

But as this article from the Birmingham Post of January 8th 1973 shows, the hapless workforce employed at Trinity Street were not even safe in their own homes from the curse of “The Devil’s element.”

Poor AW employee Gurdev Singh of Old Park Lane had a bloody phosphorus tanker crash through his front door and also wreck the house of his neighbour! The potential consequences of carrying such material could have been catastrophic given the nature of the chemical being carried- literally an incendiary bomb on wheels.

We already have one account of how a lorry load of material containing phosphorus waste caught fire on route to rattlechain lagoon, but a full load of the glowing stuff out of water would have taken out more than just a couple of houses.

A tanker of phosphorus arriving at Trinity Street

Tanked up

I’m not sure how the lorry skidded or what enquiry Albright and Wilson made into this fiasco, but when he signed up to work for this rotten firm , I’m sure that Mr Singh was not looking for this particular form of *Guru spiritual enlightenment! 😆

Gu means Darkness and Ru means Light. Literally translated, “Guru” means ‘The Light that dispels darkness.’

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Albright’s toxic archives 15 # Phosphorus burns

“REMEMBER PHOSPHORUS ALLOWS NO SECOND CHANCES”

These are the words issued in an Albright and Wilson propaganda video made some time in the early 1990’s, designed for its employees regarding safe handling techniques for this insidious chemical, forever linked to all of the activities and waste arisings associated with the Oldbury works.

scan0001

It certainly appears that the company were keen to take charge of employee health as regards potential chronic poisoning via phossy jaw, though conned them into believing that this was somehow all linked to “bad teeth”.

But this post deals with the main risk associated with the chemical in that it burns like hell, melts away the flesh and then sets about the bones. There are several reasons why a phosphorus fire and burns associated with it are much, much worse than any other type.

  • It is difficult to put out as it keeps burning in air until there is none left.
  • It is a sticky substance that clings to anything
  • It spits violently when burning meaning that several areas of fire can occur
  • It burns for a long time , and even when seemingly extinguished, can restart again in contact with air
  • Not only is the chemical itself highly toxic but when burning, phosphorus pentoxide smoke and phosphoric acid in contact with water also poisons you. This is particularly the case in contact with the mucous membranes or the eyes.
  • It is lipophilic and therefore attracted to fatty tissues

Here’s a quick video which demonstrates some of this.

Some online sources also reveal patients presenting with white phosphorus burns, often associated with military activities. Of course we also know about the Albright and Wilson’s toxic legacy of their disastrous “AW bombs”- made in the millions at Oldbury.

This link provides detail on the stages of phosphorus burns and their effects.

“Phosphorus burns are typically severely painful, necrotic, and yellowish in colour with a characteristic smell of garlic. They are commonly full-thickness burns, resulting from chemical and thermal insults. Systemic toxicity manifests in 3 phases:

(1) In the first 8 hours, patient may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea;

(2) From 8 hours to day 3, patient may be asymptomatic;

(3) From day 4 to day 8, multiorgan failure and central nervous system dysfunction may result in death. Clinicians should also be wary of predictable complications such as hypocalcemia, hyperphosphatemia, and cardiac arrhythmia. Therefore, close monitoring of electrocardiogram and serum electrolytes are important.”

Another source reveals an individual who received burns to the scalp.

The Albright and Wilson corporate video shows an image of one unlucky employee that appears to have been showered in the substance, which I understand was from the 1980’s.

To demonstrate that this was not a one off, the following article appeared in The Birmingham Post on 18th December 1972, where the unfortunate individual received burns to the face, neck and buttocks. I am not aware of the long term issues that these two men may have faced.

With accidents like this and to prevent them from being sued, is probably the main reason why AW were so keen to discharge their duty of care by ramming home the PPE issues, as well as stating they provide things like baths and shower systems in the video if any white phosphorus gets onto their workforce; the chemical industry meets  John Haigh and Norman Bates.

Where’s rubber ducky?

But it is the military use of this destructive and unnatural chemical for which burns with white phosphorus are more commonly seen today. It is a chemical weapon by proxy, and those poor buggers on the ground where it has been dropped in the theatres of war do not get ppe or waiting baths.

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What lies beneath The Gower Trap door?

 

It appears that Rhodia/Solvay’s environmental contractors and stooges have carried out a seasonal Halloween “Texas chainsaw massacre” on all trees, bushes and vegetation at their and Albright and Wilson’s mothballed Gower Tip– located next to a children’s sports field and now unfortunately another housing estate built by Morris Homes, who have long since fled the scene of the grime.

Barren wasteland.

 

But still surrounded by razor wire and fencing under the “Rhodia” brand

“Quality homes, in just the right place.” LOL

I have previously outlined the waste disposal history of this site and the contaminants still present there under the soil that have never been removed. I will go over these below once again for clarity and as a timely reminder. This is important as to what may happen next with this hellish site, and the likely lies and distortions of truth put forward by any subsequent soil testing by “environmental consultants” and “remediation” for an ulterior motive- that motive being to dupe more people into buying a house on such contaminated surroundings. “Environmental consultants” are as I frequently point out really development of housing consultants under a fake guise, and when you have a CEO of a company who wrote policy for the EA , you can see how they can get around any legislation, safe in the knowledge that the Hopeless EA are not ever going to validate any test or conclusions drawn in any report whereby “the environmental consultants” disclaim any responsibility for inaccuracies in the preface.

The waste disposal licence for the Gower Tip, SL32, a tip which dates from 1938– note the wartime connections of this military supplier, can be read HERE.  The map for this site at the time revealed that a confused land border was evident between the local authority land and AW land, ie, between the tip and the sports field. This was supposedly bunded up, and it appears from the photograph above of the field that this is still the case.

scan0021

Licence SL32 allowed the following to be disposed into the landfill, though it should be stressed that what went into here before this date in 1977 is not exactly clear.

Phosphorus pentasulphide 30tons/year

Phosphorus sesquisulphide 2 tons/year

Dross from limestone mixed with small quantities of calcium phosphate 10 tons/year

Sodium carbonate mixed with small quantities of sodium phosphate 5 tons/year

Building rubble and lagging contaminated with asbestos 5 tons/tear

Paper packaging contaminated with sodium hydroxide or sodium carbonate or lime or trace quantities of other materials of similar toxicity  15 tons/year

*Inert waste for use as cover.

Of particular note ASIDE FROM THE CHEMICAL WEAPON PRECURSOR PHOSPHORUS PENTASULPHIDE, is asbestos which we know Albright and Wilson’s medical advisors were particularly negligent about during the 1960’s and which is now causing some of their employees terminal illness. ‘s also worth remembering that the Gower Tip, along with rattlechain also had sodium cyanide illegally dumped there too.

Let’s delve a little deeper into Phosphorus pentasulphide.

Here is information taken direct from WikiLeaks. 8488_Chemical Weapons Precursors

  1. “Methylphosphonothioic dichloride (also known as SWS) (The phosphorus pentasulphide which Iraq had imported into its VX programme had been used as a source, not of phosphorus, but of sulphur in making methylphosphonothioic dichloride, this then being reacted with the precursor which Iraqi workers called “choline”, in fact 2-N,N- diisopropylaminoethanol. In a variant production process being studied late in the programme, the end-product was VX hydrochloride, known as “VX syrup”, a molasses-like liquid, stable in storage, from which VX could readily be generated when needed; dual-use; schedule 2B)
  2. Phosphorus pentasulfide (Phosphorus pentasulfide can be used to introduce a phosphorus bonded to a sulfur into an organic compound, such as V-type nerve agents including VX. The most significant commercial use of phosphorus pentasulfide is in the manufacture of zinc dialkyldithiophosphates additives for high performance lubricants. It is also used in the manufacture of insecticides including chlorpyrifos and in the manufacture of thiophosphates used in mining for ore flotation; Like another nerve agent precursor, phosphorus trichloride, it is prepared by the reaction of two elements: molten sulfur and molten phosphorus. Annual production and consumption in the US is about 50,000 tons per year.”

Any residues down the Gower Tip at 30 tonnes per year ?

One wonders which company in the UK certain foreign moustached bastards were happy to do business with in “defence” export deals, and which conceited bastards of politicians in this country were also happy for them to do business with at certain times with their revolving puppet show game of thrones allies to enemies Middle Eastern regimes?

Of course we currently have a Government and civil service who are happy to villainise Russia for allegedly dropping WMD around the country as well as current villain/ex Gulf war “allie”Assad in Syria cropping up from time to time surrounding chemical weapons, yet the actions of the despotic tea towel heads from Saudi Arabia appear to go muted when their war machine butchery goes into overdrive.

The chemical Ali’s at Trinity Street have always been good at covering up their waste dumping activities, somehow turning white phosphorus contaminated sludges into “the stuff used in toothpaste” at Rattlechain lagoon and other such nonsense designed to conceal their past military activities.

chemical weapons

Oldbury’s “baby milk factory”

BACK TO GOWER

I reported in a blog of September 2014, that ERM, Rhodia’s environmental consultants were messing around on the site and apparently taking readings. Boreholes were clearly visible at this point, and now are even more so with the levelled vegetation.

 

There were two  operatives messing around last week appearing to inspect the Gower Tip site, and of particular note they appear to have exposed some form of trapdoor vent, which may be part of a sewer system running through the hazardous waste site. Indeed they were having difficulty putting the lid on it to close afterwards, despite banging it down several times with their feet.

Measurements?

Down the shaft

Looking for rotten eggs?

All of this I would suggest has much to do with the ludicrous so called “Dudley port Supplementary Planning document” , which put forward this none Dudley Port site for housing developments around this “hazardous” contaminated land. This “garden city” branded plan  is a complete and utter joke and ignores the significant industrial damage that has been left behind.

gowercontaminated

Not a single mention of The Gower Tip

Two of these sites in this monstrous prospectus form a direct land border with The Gower Tip, with the other opposite, an infilled canal basin across the canal.

No doubt this will be presented by developers as offering “stunning canal side views” in a wonderful setting, or the like, and perhaps the Rhodia warning notices will conveniently disappear as they did at Rattlechain when it comes to marketing the new houses.

Who in their tiny minds would want to live next to this?

 

The main problem with phosphorus pentasulphide and sesquisulphide at this very “hazardous landfill” waste site is revealed in the waste management licence report to the former West Midlands County council who granted this “contentious licence” insanity back in 1978.

“I Background

This site is a former clay marl hole which has been used as an industrial tip since 1938. The site has received large quantities of toxic and hazardous waste since this time. These are mostly comprised of various compounds of phosphorus together with some radio-active wastes, laboratory chemicals, solvents etc. The site represents the major disposal outlet for the Company’s waste phosphorus pentasulphide and phosphorus susquisulphide.

These waste arisings are the main problem associated with this site since they are highly reactive especially with water. “

 

The pentasulphide reaction with water produces the toxic gas Hydrogen sulphide as well as phosphoric acid.

P4S10 + 16 H2O → 4 H3PO4 + 10 H2S

The sequisulphide reaction with water also produces highly toxic and flammable gases.

 

A paper on sesquisulphide poisoning can be read at  canmedaj00663-0054.

Claims made about the drums being buried on arrival at site only show how this company dealt with their toxic wastes. It offers an opportunity to never deal with the wastes at the Gower tip by surrounding the site with more human shields. Albright and Wilson were a firm who made a packet out of war and Britain’s war machine and weapons of mass destruction, like the firestorm of phosphorus that rained down on Hamburg melting the flesh of babies and all in its wake. Their British Government agent  and chief engineer Alf Loveless toured the German Nazi phosphorus factories after the Second world war had ended, and thus the spoils of war and the fruits of Nazi knowledge incorporated into their designs.

One of the named  new roads “Gower Croft”, will no doubt be viewed as some form of romantic throwback to The Gower brickworks, whilst ignoring the toxic tip next door which filled its space.

Another blighted B69 street

I’m just surprised that the boffs at Trinity Street have not tried to invent a new name for the Gower Tip as they attempted to with the quite ridiculous “rattlechain mere” . Perhaps “The Gower Hamlet” or The Gower Peninsula” have a certain ring, though I think the latter may already be taken. 🙂

For clarity to show where this shithole is, here is an overlay 1904 map showing how the brickworks, buildings/pit were once sited within the fenced off hazardous Albright and Wilson landfill of today. The Brades brick and Tile works were situated behind this.

In the newly named “Bullah Way” (who knows), (fullashit way? ) ,Morris Homes considerately left a piece of “green space” complete with a sewer, which may well give some clue as to the trap door in the Gower tip itself, or was it a home guard bolt hole?

The dip between the houses forming a fence line with a view of Albright and Wilson’s toxic and hazardous The Gower Tip

Where does this go, bearing in mind the issues surrounding water and phosphorus pentasulphide?

I’m just surprised that the site wasn’t considered by Sandwell Council for its Commonwealth games aquatics centre, though they appear happier to build on green space without having to pay for remediation.

A tip blighted by the spoils of war, and surrounded by houses in planning applications conceived in sewage. A “Garden City” of Eden, or the entrance to the gates of Hell?  😈

What could possibly go wrong this Halloween?  Something thought lost coming back to haunt us all? Stay away from that trap door….cause there’s something down there…..

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Albright’s toxic archives #14 -Chlorine gassed

If you thought that the threat of coming into contact with chlorine gas was something  from the history of the  World War 1 trenches, think again. In Oldbury and from the source of a British Government military supplier, it was a very real threat facing the surrounding population from the vile Albright and Wilson Trinity Street chemical factory.

British soldiers were gassed with chlorine

Firstly lets look at the chemical itself. A number of online Health Protection Agency (now Public Health England) pdfs have been published on the nature and risks associated with this chemical.

chlorine_general_information

Chlorine_IM_PHE_310516

Concerning the toxicological overview they state the following.

“Summary of Health Effects

 Exposure of unprotected personnel to chlorine gas may initially result in eye and lung irritation, the severity of which will be dependent on the concentration and duration of contact.   

Relatively minor exposures may result in sensory irritation such as burning of the eyes and throat. These initial symptoms are caused by free-radicals, hypochlorous or hypochloric acid formed by the reaction of chlorine with water in lung or eye tissues.  

 More significant exposures may lead to coughing and breathing difficulties due to the development of pulmonary and/or laryngeal oedema.

 Clearly, exposure to a large concentration of chlorine in an enclosed or poorly ventilated area may cause asphyxiation as a result of decreased oxygen availability.

 There is some evidence to suggest that acute exposure may result in long-term pulmonary sequelae (reactive airways dysfunction; RADs) in a small proportion of individuals.”

Albright and Wilson’s use of chlorine stemmed from their production of phosphorus trichloride, phosphorus oxychloride and ethyl P.C.T . It was delivered to the factory via a private rail line spur which was a direct boon from their second world war production supply as a military contractor.

The effects shown in war were clearly a major risk to anyone living near to the site, as well as the hapless employees.

The following article from The Birmingham Post 26th January 1974 shows how 27 employees of Albright and Wilson required hospital treatment after an uncontrolled cloud release of this toxic gas from the oxychloride plant.

“A green cloud of chlorine started to come into the plant where we were working. We all struggled out somehow.”

The threat of the gas was confirmed when the company were required to publish material under new CIMAH legislation, though this was an opportunity to merely promote themselves. Hazardous substance consent legislation also confirmed how the chemical was delivered into the works and the quantities involved. In 1992 the application HS/008 applied for 360 tonnes rising to 720 tonnes.

 

A plan of the storage area is shown below.

A subsequent consent HS/009 was a much heralded back slapping exercise between this company and the deluded black country development corporation. This removed the threat from rail and instead replaced it with chlorine being delivered by road instead. The quantity on site was reduced, but as evidenced by the factory uncontrolled release, this risk was not depreciated by the continued use of the chemical on site.

This only achieved the desired human shield increase in development land for both parties. Alarms and sirens and leaflets would remain in the consciousness of those living anywhere near to the site, just as they had during wartime raids.

The Environment Agency 1997 report inspection reveals further information on the Albright and Wilson chlorine machine as it then stood.

Chlorine storage area shown in green

“Because of the quantities of chlorine, phosphine, and phosphorus used, the site falls under the Control of Industrial Major Accident Hazard Regulations 1984 (CIMAH), and the Control of Industrial Major Accident Hazard (Amendment) Regulations 1990. An Off-Site Emergency Plan has therefore been produced by West Midlands Fire Service Emergency Planning Unit, with the assistance of the Company. “

The production of phosphorus trichloride and oxychloride is explained.

reference made to “a licensed landfill site”- we all know which one!

The report interestingly makes reference to another chlorine incident, but also interestingly the manner in which Albright and Wilson sought to conceal what occurred during such events.

“Z408 Report No 96/296 was reviewed. This incident occurred in the chlorine storage/transfer area; the initial incident report, summarised in the SAG minutes, stated that following maintenance a vent valve on the chlorine main had been left open, resulting in a chlorine discharge to the scrubber for approx. 90 minutes. The scrubber was overloaded, resulting in a release causing an operator to report “a horrendous smell of chlorine” in the local area.

 

Albright & Wilson had unquestionably taken appropriate action to identify the cause and prevent a recurrence; however, the incident clearly constituted a “malfunction or breakdown of plant, equipment, technical means or technology where the malfunction or breakdown has potential to cause serious pollution of the environment”. It should therefore have been reported to the Agency under condition 1.13 (c) (as given above) of the authorisation, even though modelling indicated no significant environmental impact and the incident did not cause off-site complaint.

As a final footnote to this post it is worth publishing how the emergency services were tasked with the event of a major incident of such a chlorine release at the site. Not only does the author confirm his recollections of rattlechain lagoon, but as a former police officer, how gas masks were carried in the patrol car and how information was not communicated to the general public.

“Basically the civilian population would have been helpless, the only advice was to tell people to stay in doors and shut their windows. “

It would appear that very little has actually changed about “advice” in the intervening years, though there are no longer bulk deliveries of Cl2 down the rail tracks and according to Solvay, production of the two chloride plants was shut down, though no amendment to the substance consents ever appears to have been made.

Today the political class and Government agents are quick to tell us about “threats” from foreign lands. 100 years ago it was the Germans. At times when it suited them, it has been Middle East “allies” who then morph into  enemies with “weapons of mass destruction”. Today it suits them to have the pesky vlads dropping canisters in the vain hope that they think that we believe they are making us feel safe- but never talk about the chemical industry of Britain and its real undiminished threat to civilian populations- perhaps that would not be patriotic- even though the current site operators are Belgian owned.

Perhaps beyond the bullshit “reassurances” of calendars pushed through doors and emergency practice drills, this might help local residents, 100 years on after World War one actually ended. You can buy them on ebay quite reasonably. All the best of British! 😛

All quiet on the Western Road front?

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Albright’s toxic archives #13- Tom cat’s out of the bag

This is another post dealing with the notorious “Oldbury smell” and the fall out this smell of “tom cat pee”, actually a man made chemical, caused across a huge area of The West Midlands direct from the Albright and Wilson Trinity Street factory.

I have previously outlined the origins story. Then how the indefatigable Councillor Mrs Gunn brought it to the attention of the wider public by waving her withered bush. There was “chocolate gate” where the smell reached Birmingham and contaminated confectionary. It also reached Handsworth leaving people sleepless.

Then there was the political interference of Albright and Wilson cronies which I dealt with here.

This post deals with a couple of other Birmingham Post articles that I have found surrounding this public health issue, and offers an interesting juxtaposition of a political industrial shill and an independent professional observer. The contrasts could not be more stark between “Alderman” S.T Melsom – for some reason given the title of “freeman of Oldbury” as well as being bestowed the position of Mayor and that of Doctor Hugh Paul, the then medical director for health in Smethwick.

The article from 29th April 1955 deals with a report written by Dr Paul concerning the “Oldbury smell” which it states lasted for four years. The memorandum formed a wider arching discussion on air pollution in general and potential methods of tackling this.

“…an extremely obnoxious smell caused widespread discontent over an area populated by 1,500,000 people in 1949 and continued intermittently until late 1953.”

 

“It is obvious from any account of the affair that it took a period of four years to abate the nuisance , and a particularly nauseating and  offensive nuisance at that. “

Dr Paul calls out the failed “alkali works inspectorate” and its bureaucratic systems in which there was “no confidence” ,  instead calling for local authorities to be given powers to prosecute serial polluters like Albright and Wilson, who clearly did nothing at all to prevent this profitable chemical stream except issue platitudes and bullshit in equal measure. By all accounts a straight talking and sometimes controversial Ulsterman, he also advocated powers to fine the company or powers to shut their processes down if they were unable to control such pollution – which he clearly states that they could do in this case, even if this meant loss of money to the company.

A 4th May 1955 Birmingham Post reply from Melsom clearly demonstrates his priorities for the Quaker swindlers over the concerns of local residents of Oldbury.

“Oldbury had not made itself conspicuously by prosecuting industrial concerns from whose premises there was atmospheric pollution.”

How reassuring that this shill should defend a multinational polluter over local inhabitants- a true socialist I’m sure.

The claimed “success” that this fool talks about in the article was nothing of the sort. He spoke about “burying” it- – who knows where, and that it had continued for so long confirms that it hadn’t.

He also claims that the management had felt the pain of those whose lives they were making a daily misery. The war dodger Bill Albright who was responsible for introducing the chemical to Oldbury lost much sleep over this I’m sure.

Dr Paul had been in post for 28 years and retired in October of the same year (1955) that this criticism of the system, and the smell was made public. Perhaps this was just a coincidence, or perhaps there were other more sinister figures at work?

As a final footnote on this local smelly legend, it’s perhaps fitting that Albright and Wilson’s odours outlasted the final breaths of the man who had protected them for so long when the Alderman smellsome croaked in 1976.

Oldbury finally did get rid of its TOM.LOL

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Explosive plans

 

MUTINY IN OLDBURY!

Back in the summer of ’69, the hard pressed , toxic assaulted residents of Langley had had enough of the international chemical giant on their doorsteps poisoning them with their chemicals in the air, and threatening their safety with ever dangerous health and safety failures.

Plans to use explosive substances at a site engulfed in chemical spills, fires and “accidents” were the final straw and the threat of not paying rates was the only option left to make a stand against the Albright and Wilson evil empire. This article from The Birmingham Daily Post April 24th 1969 sets the scene.

Station Road resident Genevieve Goule spoke out against the not so society friendly  Quaker giants.

“We are already on a knife edge after alarming incidents in the area. If the firm is granted this licence tensions will increase.

 

The “alarming incidents” referred to were by no means housewife fanciful fiction. The chemical factory had killed its own workers in dubious circumstances. Fellow station Road resident Alice Whittleton recalled the death of Thomas Gough at the factory two years earlier, following an explosion in a plant reactor.

“Our lives would become  unbearable” she said. “We have never been the same since a man was killed in an explosion at the firm two years ago”

The article also mentions another incident involving acid fumes at another nearby site, as well as the phosphine leak at the Albright and Wilson site that was still fresh in the mind. It also mentions mothers’ fears about their children at The Langley primary school just yards away from the danger blast zone.

The story itself and the explosives were actually part of Albright and Wilson’s planning application made the year earlier under the cover of W2450“construction of a small pyrotechnics filling factory.” 

Albright and Wilson had a long dubious homoerotic fascination for  Naval matters and the senior service, and this factory plant application was to supply signalling devices of an explosive nature.

The explosives licence is referred to in this Albright and Wilson letter.

The explosives concerned were Nitroguinadine and pentolite.

The claims by the Albright and Wilson spokesman that there was no reason for alarm and that “we make sure that there is no danger” were hollow in the extreme, especially given their earlier mentioned public demonstrable failures to stop fires, leaks and explosions.

This was certainly a dangerous time in this part of the world- perhaps the biggest danger that those in power and positions of responsibility were all under the grip of insidious and academically institutionalised old boy secret societies- but no need to worry ratepayers of Oldbury, all the nice girls love an able seaman. 😆

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Albright’s toxic archive links #12 Not the first Trinity Street phosphine leak

 

They appear to have always had a problem holding in their gas at the home of the chemical Mordor that is the Trinity Street polluting phosphorus factory.

In fact the serious leak of phosphine in 2009 that resulted in the much publicised fire as well as a major fine for the company behind the uncontrolled release is certainly not a one off incident as this post testifies.

Historically the area suffered with a range of foul odours collectively known as “the Oldbury smell”, but also with frequent toxic assaults of chemical clouds over Langley.

This piece from the Birmingham Daily Post from 29th April 1969 describes a leak of the highly toxic gas from Albright and Wilson’s plant. It appears that at this point in history, the chemical cretins could not even check on a rusty tank containing “500 cubic feet of the gas”.

Of course it simply ignited, but there is no mention of the problems caused to local residents as a result or the significant risk of harm that it would cause to them. At this point in history the firm was still in the grip of the two crooked families and their even more crooked mates in the rotten borough of Warley. Such incidents would no doubt be written off as “accidents” and the familiar lamentable reassurances given that it wouldn’t happen again as the plant was perfectly “safe”. Meanwhile what health issues befell those exposed to such chemicals? No doubt that would also be met with rebuttals as this disgusting company did with their own employees exposure to white phosphorus and also asbestos.

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HS/040- What local residents need to know

There is currently a very important planning application which affects the whole of Langley and most of the surrounding area of Oldbury. Be in no doubt, this hazardous substance consent, sought by a company which has repeatedly failed to control its off site problems decides what type of town the people of Oldbury want.

Let us first consider what this Solvay site currently is. To give it its souped up title it is a COMAH top tier site. That sounds both baffling and also a false impression that somehow everything that happens within this spralling chemical factory is perfectly safe and regulated. The reality has been somewhat different over time.

The Control of Major Accident Hazards Regulations 1999 (COMAH) implement the Seveso II Directive, and are important for controlling major accident hazards involving dangerous substances in Great Britain.

COMAH sites in England are controlled by The Environment Agency (EA), and The Health and Safety Executive, (HSE)– “the competent authority” that governs health and safety at work legislation in the UK, and also investigates failures- as occurred in the infamous phosphine fire at this site in 2009.

Let us first look at the definitions that the HSE uses when it talks of “hazard” and “risk”.

 

THE PDF  LINK BELOW GIVES  AN OVERVIEW OF Solvay’s COMAH site, where it is revealed that the hazard and risk are elevated because of the chemicals being stored and used on this site. .

 

COMAH-PI-Oldbury

If you can’t be bothered to read that, then here are the basic facts about the chemicals already stored on this site and the risks involved with them.

We will return to Solvay’s emergency alarms in due course.

Furthermore the risks associated with this top tier site are revealed to be

“Nature of major accident hazards:
Accidental release of dangerous substances

Explosion

Fire

Explosion – Levels of blast overpressure which may be harmful to humans and animals and damage buildings. Projectiles travelling at high speeds may also spread from the explosion presenting a risk to people, animals and damage buildings. Explosions may also initiate fires.

Fire – Ranges from an intense fire lasting several seconds to large fires lasting several minutes or hours. Potential for fire damage to people and the environment and fires may spread to other areas, a drifting cloud of flammable gas may ignite. Fires may generate smoke clouds which may lead to breathing difficulties and deposition of soot on property and vegetation.”

That’s really great isn’t it and right on the doorsteps of many homes that probably are blissfully unaware!

I have outlined Solvay’s existing Hazardous substance consents on this website- because unfortunately Sandwell council- the local authority that has granted every one of them appears to have decided to deny local people the opportunity to view these hazards and risks associated with this vile chemical factory by erasing them from its planning website. It is unclear how this fits in with their so called “2030 vision”- but I will remind people of that near the end of this post and the divergence of this Oldbury from their vision.

HS/040 THE DETAILS

Solvay are seeking an increase in pressure for their use of the chemical they failed to control in 2009- the toxic highly flammable gas PHOSPHINE.

They are also seeking consent for new substances, HEXENE, HYDROGEN PEROXIDE 35%, and CYANEX 923- A mixture of the substances hexyldioctylphosphine oxide, dihexyloctylphosphine oxide, and trioctylphosphine oxide . I will outline the risks associated with all of these substances below.

The application form can be downloaded below.

HS_040-APPLICATION_FOR_HAZARDOUS_SUBSTANCES_CONSENT-960495

PHOSPHINE

Of all of the chemicals that this company could have applied for variation of, this one really does take the piss, and no wonder they do not want public scrutiny about it!

This substance was originally permissioned by Hazardous substance consent HS/008 in 1992.

This gave then Albright and Wilson consent quantity for 1,59 tonnes

Firstly let’s look at the chemical hazard. Here is what the then Health Protection Agency (now Public Health England) saw about the risks of phosphine and incident management.

Phosphine_properties_incident_management_toxicology

One notes from this

“Health effects of acute exposure

 Phosphine is acutely toxic; exposure to high levels cause immediate effects  Early symptoms of acute phosphine or phosphide exposure are non-specific and include respiratory problems, cough, headaches, dizziness, numbness, general fatigue and gastrointestinal disturbance (pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea) . Effects of exposure to higher levels of phosphine, the onset of which may be delayed by several days or more, include pulmonary oedema, convulsions, damage to the kidney, liver and heart, and death …”

The following safety data sheet has been provided by Solvay- incidentally using the Rhodia brand -who were responsible for a phosphine toxic uncontrolled release occurring  😆

Just to be clear, there is no difference between the two companies, just the name.

HS_040-SAFETY_DATA_SHEET_-_PHOSPHINE-960509

Oh dear, oh dear!

Rhodia/solvay identify that phosphine is “very toxic by inhalation”, “causes burns”, there is a ” risk of serious damage to eyes”, “inhalation may be fatal”, and it is “very toxic to aquatic organisms”.  GOT THAT?

This application is mired in semantics about what Solvay actually intend to do with this chemical- but they fail to answer if they are INCREASING the amount of phosphine or DECREASING the amount of phosphine on site- instead talking about increasing the pressure used- which can only increase the risk. Even if they are decreasing the amount, does this hide the risk with the associated increase in pressure used?

The 2009 phosphine fire at this site laid bare the risks, the hazards and the failures of Rhodia- with the same HSE director Tom Dutton in control who makes this application for the rebranded “Solvay” . Incidentally at the time of the HS/008 application in 1992, as an Albright and Wilson employee he was then listed as “risk prevention manager”. 😆

picture Express and Star

Here is the HSE outline of what happened that day and how it made international news when there was an uncontrolled release of 37kg of phosphine and associated breakdown products.

 

As for Solvay’s much heralded alarm system, they did not sound the alarm , as stated in the HSE investigation quite bloody laughably blaming this on West Midlands fire service for the following reason.

Really?!

I will look a little more about this uncontrolled phosphine release/fire and the atrocious failures in the summing up of this post.

HEXENE

The new consent seeks permission for 27 tonnes of this highly flammable liquid substance.

The  safety data sheet  provided with the Solvay submission is 48 pages long and too large a file to download here, but here are the key points.

Just another flammable risk to local residents then.

HYDROGEN PEROXIDE

The following safety data sheet is submitted by Solvay with this application. They seek to use 50 tonnes of this material on site.

HS_040-SAFETY_DATA_SHEET_-_HYDROGEN_PEROXIDE-960507

Here are the key facts

Much as the chemical industry love to portray their hazardous substances in mundane terms to equate them with seeming innocuous everyday uses, the “hair dye” is anything but safe on this site. Indeed, in today’s terms it has been used of late by Isis inspired terrorists across Europe as a component in pressure cooker bombs. The risk is that it is an oxidiser and increase the risk of fire immensely. Given that this site deals with a whole host of already flammable and explosive substances does one feel that this inclusion of this particular chemical will increase or decrease the risk of explosion to the general public?

Oh well we can all go blonde as well as blind

 

CYANEX

This is another potential semantic tool used to describe three separate substances. The quantity applied for is also 50 tonnes. This is one of Solvay’s own shit mixes as evidenced by the following safety data sheet is submitted by Solvay in the application.

HS_040-SAFETY_DATA_SHEET_-_CYANEX-960506

Lovely jubbly

And this one is also an embryo kiddy killer , as well as causing damage to virility gentlemen.

 

It is also worth pointing out some of the breakdown products of this mixture.

 

APPLICATION OVERVIEW

Other documents are supplied with the Solvay application. Click to view.

A site location plan

HS_040-SITE_LOCATION_PLAN-960498

A substance location plan for Hydrogen peroxide and cyanex. NB THESE SUBSTANCES ARE TO BE STORED ACROSS THE WHOLE SOLVAY SITE AS EVIDENCED BY THE PLAN S2 AND S3

HS_040-SUBSTANCE_LOCATION_PLAN_S2___S3-960496

Locations for phosphine and Hexene are shown on the following plan.

HS_040-SUBSTANCE_LOCATION_PLAN-960497

There are other extracts of Solvay’s COMAH report which are very interesting which appear to date from 2016.

HS_040-COMAH_SAFETY_REPORT-960503

This gives a breakdown of where employees at the factory (stated to be around 150), are typically located in each of the plants across the site. A handy plan is located at the end of this part of the report.

 

HS_040-RISK_ASSESSMENT-960504

This plan gives a handy radius of the “blast site” and occupancy of residential properties and amenities within it. It is interesting to note that this stretches to a circumference of 1.8 km from the epicentre of the factory and includes 10 schools. .

 

HS_040-SAFETY_REPORT_-_EMERGENCY_RESPONSE-960512

There is little but very basic information here about a range of scenarios. The whole COMAH report would make interesting reading, and I think that I will be getting my hands on this for dissection sometime soon. 👿

And so then let’s return to Solvay and what happened in 2009. You could hear some folk say lessons have been learnt” blah blah blah, but the proof is when the shit hits the fan and something goes wrong. You can practice all you like, pat yourself on the back and wallow in self congratulatory praise with a bunch of “professionals” who also were seen to totally fuck up that January morning when something went awry.

This is what the HSE found in their report.

 

They could not even get the basic fire fighting methods correct.

THEY FAILED TO SOUND THE TOXIC GAS ALARM TO WARN THE LOCAL RESIDENTS THAT THERE WAS A LEAK.

In addition, they

  • invented release data to attempt to downgrade the incident
  • obstructed the HSE investigation making it extend beyond a reasonable period of time
  • Did not make contact with vulnerable premises
  • Lied about past incidents on site

DOES THIS SOUND LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOUR?

So let’s return to the one question. WHAT TYPE OF OLDBURY DO PEOPLE WANT TO SEE, AND WHAT IS SANDWELL COUNCIL’S VISION?

We currently appear to have an increasing risk of danger to life and health from premises such as those at PO Box 80. There have been  fires at other hazardous sites, and there have been fires at so called “recycling” premises near to this site that were also permissioned by Sandwell council in their wisdom and felching for local business. There are also mounds of unsanctioned tipped waste that appear never to be removed. AND OF COURSE THERE ARE TOXIC HAZARDOUS WASTE DUMPS WHERE FUCKING IDIOTS AND TAX AVOIDERS APPEAR TO THINK IT IS A GOOD IDEA TO BUILD MORE HOUSES.

Plans to build more houses inside the blast zone and in plain sight of this chemical anus belcher are already in the pipeline.

“THE CONSULTATION ZONE”

Incredibly in their application, Tom Dutton states

“Note that if it is deemed that this application could result in a change to the consultation distance then we would be willing to impose further conditions to mitigate against this.”

Well how very gracious of this Solvay director, but he is in no position to be “imposing conditions”- this is the job of the “competent authority”. The fact that this application appears to rest in the hands of one totally unqualified Sandwell planning officer means that we will only have one named person to blame if this is passed without real scrutiny and something happens.

Are people aware that their homes may suddenly be enveloped into a COMAH blast zone?

If there is no change to the zone, (and who is going to make that call), if something goes wrong then are we going to go round in circles that everyone had a chance to do something but did nothing , just to accommodate this dirty industrial polluter and its sliding European centred chemical trade?

As for those claiming that Solvay success  is “good for the local economy” and the like, they need to get a reality check. Employ a few local people it may, but not nearly as many as it used to. One can also look at those in senior positions who live nowhere near the blast zone by personal choice, in places like Malvern , just as the fox hunt loving Albright and Wilson’s did back in the day. Perhaps they may see a faint glow as the beacon of Oldbury lights up the starry sky dimmed by increasing night light pollution from overdevelopment.

But what of Sandwell council’s “vision”

Does a factory like Solvay with its increasing hazards sound like ambition 8 of the strategy?

“families will be choosing to move into and stay in Sandwell and be proud of their town”

Really? Does this include the managers and directors at Solvay? Not bloody likely.

Does ambition 2 fit in with hosting more hazardous substances in Oldbury?

There is already the problem of air pollution from the motorway system, and what of uncontrolled emissions and the increased risk of them?

I will be objecting to this proposal partly just for jolly to stop the Solvay schemers.

But I will also be objecting because this isn’t the vision of Oldbury that I want to see; an increasing economic Russian roulette for conmen, crooks, wealthy speculators and fucking crooked bastards- and that’s just the political class of the area.

You can  join with me and stop Solvay and save Oldbury by objecting to this hazardous substance consent by contacting Sandwell council before 17th August. Cite the reference of the following below.

Contact the local councillors of this area and see if they care more about local people than a Belgian owned chemical company with its links to a former French civil servant.

THE FUTURE OF OLDBURY IS IN YOUR HANDS, JUST DON’T LEAVE IT TO SOLVAY AND BECOME THEIR HUMAN SHIELDS.

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The new Solvay Hazardous Substance consent mystery

It was recently revealed in a concealed application next to a couple of dodgy massage parlour adverts in The Express and Star Newspaper that the serial polluters and toxic chemical assaulters of PO Box 80 Trinity Street have applied to Sandwell Council for a new Hazardous Substance consent application for chemical substances stored on their site.

This is required under The planning ( Hazardous Substances) Act 1990.

But it is here that the mystery started to deepen, as there was originally no information whatsoever on Sandwell council’s planning website about what chemicals are being considered in this application or what risks they may pose more importantly to the local residents and wider community- already living in the shadow of a consultation zone living in fear. It is clear however from searching the location of the Solvay factory that this application now has the reference number HS/040 and that the application has been received.

But up until very recently , why Sandwell council when one clicks on this application did the reader receive only the following????

There is also mystery as to why ALL of the documents associated with the previous hazardous substance consents at this site have been removed by someone behind Sandwell council’s planning website. They were once there as I saved many of them prudently and have detailed some of the applications and the chemicals and associated risks on this website.

Why are Sandwell council denying members of the public and the local community living in this area an opportunity to view the risks associated with this major hazard site? Are residents just expected to believe the lying spin of chemical company who have always maintained that their site and the dangerous chemicals within it pose no risks whilst waiting for the sirens to sound when something goes wrong, that is if they decide when it is an offsite  “risk” ?

It should be remembered at this point about the form of this company- change their name they may, but the site history as Rhodia and Albright and Wilson leaves much to be desired.

The 2009 leak of phosphine gas rumbled on for years under “investigation” during which time this company did nothing but obstruct and delay the investigation to protract it for years.  They were eventually found guilty and fined , despite protestations for an event that was entirely their own fault with the incident being reported to The European Commission.

Dirty business as usual

The Express and Star advert invites the reader to contact one “Dr” Tom Duttton if they want to view the application. One should  consider that this man, (employed in numerous health and safety posts  at Albright and Wilson and Rhodia ) was the same who famously stated that the chemicals in Rattlechain lagoon was “the stuff used in toothpaste” . This bullshit bare faced lie restricted the investigation into the cause of deaths of the birds at the site caused purely by the hazardous white phosphorus that their entire operation at Trinity Street has always been based on. The failures at the plant in 2009 were on his watch.

It is now apparent after contacting Sandwell council that this hazardous substance application actually seeks to increase the pressure of phosphine being used at the site. YOU COULD NOT MAKE THIS SHIT UP!

HS/040 has subsequently been rebranded “Modification to quantity of phosphine stored and used and proposed storage and use of Hezene, hydrogen peroxide and cyanex on site”

I will look in more depth about the documents that have now finally been put on Sandwell council’s website but this pressure cooker mixture only serves to add greater risk to people already living in the face of a previous toxic assault.

 

MILL LANE DEVELOPMENT

Of course local residents may be lucky enough to have a Solvay calendar propaganda pamphlet delivered lovingly  (bi yearly)  by a clapped out former councillor along with a copy of the latest Labour Rose. 😆

But what of the permissioned new development at Mill Street, as well as other plots very near to the Solvay works? Are these to be considered relevant by those making decisions about this hazardous substance consent? Has this timing been deliberately delayed so that the application for housing was granted BEFORE Solvay asked for more from their chemistry?

New homes in the shadow of a COMAH SITE

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