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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West Midlands cyanide dumping#2 The rattlechain cyanide!

 

In 1972 the UK was in the grip of a media storm concerning the dumping of highly toxic chemicals- though in reality this had been going on for years in out of sight out of mind former marl holes like the one at Rattlechain.

This totally unregulated chemical dumping pit had seen earlier local community concerns about what was being deposited there- especially the white phosphorus contaminated waste delivered there by canal barge and also by lorry. It was a “peril to children”, as well as being a place where fires occurred.

It had a “noxious” smell also related to the chemicals being deposited there and had affected human health. There were concerns and clear evidence that the material was also ending up in the local canal system causing a threat there also. It was also a fact that those in charge of waste operations such as the thief Ernest Sulley could not give a toss where the stuff from the AW factory ended up- so long as it couldn’t be pinned on them.

Into this storm of free for all, it probably comes as no surprise that a batch of allegedly flytipped cyanide was found at the lagoon when the flustered authorities felt the heat of public scrutiny. In reality they had probably turned a blind eye for years- or more likely paid well to.

The following appeared in 16th March 1972 Birmingham Daily Post.

Not only have the drums inexplicably appeared at the site, but also as described at “the Brades Road tip” which  can only have been Albright and Wilson’s  Gower Tip in addition. What a coincidence- and perhaps questions for their contractor drivers who were operational at this time- or their bargemen who were still at this point dumping waste by barge.

The quote from Woodhead of Albright and Wilson appears to be a Freudian slip.

“We have disposed of the drums in the same way as we SHOULD have done had they been our own”.

Why “should” and not would?

We do know that Albright and Wilson merely dumped their drums of chemical waste under water- except that the properties of cyanide mean that it produces highly toxic breakdown chemicals when in contact with water.

NaCN + H2O ⇄ NaOH + HCN

Sodium hydroxide and Hydrogen cyanide are produced, the later being a highly toxic gas.

Is the Woodhead saying that they just dumped the drums under water- as they “would have done” with the other barrels? If not then how did AW dispose of the cyanide waste that they DID handle at Trinity Street?

 The post was later updated in the same day. Kay of the local authority appears to have informed uncle Tom cobley and all, yet can only conclude that it must have been flytipping- less concerned about the dangerous chemicals more deadly than cyanide being dumped there already.
Woodhead then speculates that they must have been thrown over the fence from the canal bank pointing out that the site had fencing and a gate but that he would be looking again at security . 😆 
It should be pointed out however that on the adjoining land at this time, concern had already been expressed by AW about the unregulated chemical tipping on land belonging to the land use conman Sydney Sheldon. What did he know about this I wonder?

 

Despite these incidents that garnered national attention to a serious issue, the resulting Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act merely served to legitimise dumping certain toxic wastes at certain places.  A letter from the Trent River Authority following the passing of this Act in 1972 reveals that discussions took place with the company about what they could subsequently deposit there down John’s Lane, but by this time the damage had already been done and was under water.

The additional legislation of The Control Of Pollution Act further allowed companies like Albright and Wilson the opportunity to continue dumping poisonous and hazardous waste with impunity with the auspices of a paper weight licence so badly worded and full of loopholes that it was not fit for the purpose that it was supposed to serve.

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West Midlands Cyanide dumping#1- “the deadly barrels”

Back in the early 1970’s a rash of chemical flytipping became national news- with the most notable cases occurring in areas of The West Midlands. The main chemical of concern was sodium cyanide, probably one of the best known poisons to members of Jo public.

The chemical is toxic by skin absorption through open wounds, by ingestion, and by inhalation of dust. It is however less poisonous than white phosphorus, which is highly ironic given that the shiesters of Oldbury were allowed to not only deposit their dumpings of this chemical under water at rattlechain lagoon, but also very often around it to catch fire in the open air.

Given that not only is this cyanide as well as the closely related potassium cyanide highly poisonous, it also reacts badly with other chemicals to form poisonous gases. You can therefore probably appreciate why the authorities were worried at this point in time as to what might happen if widespread dumping of drums of this chemical were turning up in public places.

The following information is given by The Health Protection Agency, now Public health England

Sodium/Potassium Cyanide General information.

Sodium/Potassium Cyanide Incident management.

A flurry of cyanide dumping cases resulted in the drafting of “The Deposit of Poisonous Wastes Act” passed in just 10 days in 1972. The most notable of these occurred in Nuneaton at a (surprise surprise) , an abandoned brickworks site which included a children’s playground. 36 drums containing one and a half tonnes of Cyanide ash waste were recovered. This in theory would be enough to kill millions of people.

The front page of The Daily Mirror 25th February 1972

It quickly became apparent that a company mark found on the drums belonged to a Coventry firm Precise Heat Treatment. The culprits initially pleaded not guilty , as reported in the Coventry Evening Telegraph on 26th February 1972.

A few things emerge from this first article.

  • The “firm” in the spotlight if you could even call it that was run by one man with one employee.
  • A multitude of “companies” appear to have had some hand in the dubious operations of removing waste.
  • The drums contained a 20 per cent residue of sodium cyanide

A subsequent headline from the same paper on 8th June reveals that the owner of the company and two other individuals were on trial for the dumping of the cyanide waste.

 

The two men John Monaghan and Michael Keeling were paid just £50 to dispose of the waste for another company. It is bizarre to hear that the so called “witness” for the prosecution was not fussed about where the two charlatons of the road were dumping the waste. Today he and his company would also face the prosecution that they should have here. The other defendant- Terrence Singlehurst denied aiding and abetting the two men for his “company”.

The two tippers were subsequently found guilty as The Coventry Evening Telegraph from 9th June 1972 reveals , yet it could be asked if the punishment fitted the crime and if the verdict had been applied equally to all parties involved in the affair. Keeling was fined £100 and got six months in prison for the dumping of the cyanide in two locations and also for being a benefit fiddler. His compatriot, also fined £100 and also a thief off the tax payer however had his six month sentence suspended.

It is difficult to see how Singlehurst was cleared, and today legislation WOULD have rightly found him as culpable for the crime as the two pillocks he had paid to dispose of waste from his joke of a “company”.

A further article from 4th July reveals that the fines of both men were subsequently halved at Crown Court- adding further downgrade to the seriousness of the offence.

This case saw the DOPWA come into force and the basis of the legislation was the placing of responsibility of the deposit of waste on industry. A maximum of five years imprisonment and unlimited fines for the dumping of poisonous, noxious or polluting waste was brought in. Unfortunately however as time would prove- it simply increased the rush to deposit poisonous waste under the cloak of legitimacy.

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A chain reaction?

 

I’m not sure what is going on with the electric company Western Power at the moment, but they have been like a bad dose of the clap in Winter’s chill in the Black country area in recent times. Road sides and pavements dug up and cordoned off, temporary traffic lights abounding also. They and their contractors also made a right spectacle in Wednesbury, 

sparking a biblical flood and hundreds of thousands of pounds of damage.

In terms of Rattlechain, they even made it down John’s Lane leading to Temple Way of all places, stopping right outside the front turquoise gates of everyone’s favourite Hazardous waste area site!

 

If this was all part of some co-ordinated programme of works dealing with properties in neighbouring Callaghan Drive, one has to wonder whether it was just pure coincidence that Rhodia/Solvay’s contractors Belgian firm Heyrman De Roeck turned up at the same time and were pottering about inside the hazardous waste area. I can’t imagine why Belgian owned Solvay wouldn’t be thinking of “finding it local” in Sandwell and using Belgian firm Heyrman De Roeck instead? 🙄

Or perhaps they were more worried in case a similar scenario to the one in Wednesbury unfolded with a mini digger near to the white phosphorus laced lagoon. It would be a real disaster wouldn’t it if a leak was sprung and the lot went down the pan into the sewers ?

It was clear that the Flemish fellows had had boats on the water, but what were they up to?  Another round of dosing the pool with acidic substances to lower the ph, in order to fiddle the ERM “monitoring” figures?

Here’s a reminder of what I caught them doing dumping in 2014 with aluminium sulphate.

Later in the week they were strimming the South side of the lagoon banks . But what looked suspiciously like a dead gull, lesser black backed or herring was dead in the same area.

At the same time a group of nine swans decided they had had enough and took flight from the site. By no means whatsoever does the appearance of birds at this site indicate anything regards “safety” of the site. There were birds on here that survived for long periods of time when they were still dumping waste, and there were those that died from white phosphorus poisoning after just hours of being on there. “Rhodia roulette” you might call it when dabbling in the shallows.

This blog will be taking a little summer break over the next month to work on some more pages and investigations. There are also the ludicrous “garden city” plans still in the air which has no local support. Of course, we should be aware of how some would like to bury a toxic history for commercial gains, but things have a very perculiar way of coming to the surface, like for example the phosphine gas that was bubbling to the surface even as the Belgians were actively engaged in green management. Hopefully they didn’t suffer any “instant radiation” or loose their hats this time:lol:

 

Take it away Diana……………….

 

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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.

PROBE LAUNCHED IN CHEMICAL LORRY FIRE

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.

SEALED DRUMS

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.

Stringent

“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.

Tankers

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!

KEN HARVEY

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.

THAT THIS UTTER CRETIN WAS IN CHARGE OF ALBRIGHT AND WILSON’S ACTIVITIES ONLY DEMONSTRATES HOW LITTLE A SHIT THEY GAVE ABOUT ANY OF THIS ONCE END OF PROCESS HAD BEEN REACHED.

NO CHANGE AT ALL- JUST DIRTY BUSINESS AS USUAL.

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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Albright’s toxic archive links #11 Shittish waterways

If it wasn’t fatal explosions killing their own staff and gassing local Oldbury residents , it was of course their dire pollution record and this lasting legacy that defines Albright and Wilson.

I have dealt previously with their toxic trail from the old Chemical arm to rattlechain, and also provided accounts of those who observed the dire trade being carried out. These articles however from the excellent British newspaper archive and the Birmingham Daily Post reveal how further widespread the company were polluting the Birmingham canal via their appalling Alfred Matty contractors of Coseley.

From 13th February 1968 we learn of an incident following which  boaters were urged to not use the Netherton tunnel on account of the “deadly fumes” that had been unleashed from within the large structure. These fumes were a direct result of Albright and Wilson’s canal cargo- phosphorus and its breakdown products  i.e the stuff that they were dumping into Rattlechain lagoon.

 

This should come as little surprise that Alfred Matty were spilling this material liberally into the canal.

S1150003

The entrance to the Netherton tunnel, some 2768 metres long

A further letter then appeared in the same newspaper supporting the claims made by the other inland waterways users. This also warned of “the extreme danger”  posed by the Albright and Wilson phosphorus waste. It also suggests the glow that this material was having in darkness.

 

 

By 03 May 1968 the Albright and Wilson spin machine appears to have become operational. We get the usual statement about how much money they claim to have spent putting right their own pollution issue. This of course was a regular tactic of this deceitful company. They did it repeatedly with the “Oldbury smell” as well as fatal explosions from their factory. Unfortunately as these articles often do, they appear more like advertisements for the company. The claims of cutting waste are not the issue at all, but the one which they attempt to spin. As revealed in the account concerning Alfred Matty contractor Enoch Clewes , the danger was not reduced by the danger of the chemical still being dumped.

 

It is interesting to note from this article that British Waterways were stated as threatening possible legal action against Albright and Wilson, which is difficult seeing that their own organisation were also directly being allowed to tip from this industrial polluter into the very same marlhole at Rattlechain that was the issue.

I wonder what deals were done between the two parties? 🙄

By 11 September 1968 we get “no rest till tunnel cleared. This comes from the boaters who had reported the problem concerning the Netherton tunnel issue to start with.

What appears to have escaped these people’s thought is where this material when cleared from the Netherton tunnel would be deposited. It is perhaps merely selfish that when this tunnel was cleared for boat cruising, that it didn’t really matter where it went, as long as it wasn’t in the canal.

Unfortunately this whole attitude was one associated with the canal chemical traffic to start with. I shed absolutely no tears that it is dead in the water and will never come back, because I have seen first hand as to what those involved with it did- they killed wildlife and poisoned the environment and little else, whilst making Albright and Wilson a great deal of money for little cost of getting rid of harmful waste that is still all there and still a danger.

I have also had the great misfortune to go through the Netherton tunnel following behind diesel powered narrow boats belching out foul pollution of their own- and this continues to the present day. I have had to deal with the direct pollution that these boats cause from leaking diesel into the water, and evidence of discharge, particularly around mooring stations are not hard to find on the BCN network. ALL DIESAL POWERED CRAFT SHOULD BE PHASED OUT AND BANNED FROM BRITAIN’S CANALS- THERE SHOULD BE  NO USE OF DIESAL AT ALL- IT IS THAT SIMPLE.

Then there are those fucking idiots who have gone on “boat marathons” , up every nook and disused arm even when told by locals that they will get stuck and there is no access, but still they selfishly continued, only to leave behind dead fish and displaced drowning chicks in the water after stirring up decades of industrial pollution that the boat chemical traffic caused and that British waterways failed to clear up.

Of course, British waterways no longer exist, and in that I am also glad because they were an absolutely shite organisation, in bed with the polluters, and not chasing them to stop it. One can see from this letter below from 1970, and after these articles appeared, that they were still pursuing Albright and Wilson about the pollution around the tunnel, but only to tip it somewhere off their patch- that patch of course being rattlechain lagoon.

British waterways confirming pollution caused by Albright and Wilson's waste materials in Birtmingham canal.
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Albright’s toxic archive links#10 A fatal blow (3)

Strike a light! In March 1967 an explosion at the cursed Trinity Street plant killed another of their hapless workforce. The early report in the Birmingham Daily Post of 4th March reported an explosion that rocked the town. It was reported that this took place in the oil additives processing area. Bare in mind that these wretched chemicals introduced by W.B Albright during the war were already the cause of the foul “Oldbury smell”.

Observers from some distance away saw the explosion and it appears to have sent debris over a large area.

“The whole area was cordoned off by the police”

The article reported that additional firefighters were sent to the factory when two missing men were reported. It incorrectly states that no one was harmed by the explosion.

The following day the same paper reports on the death of Thomas Gough, 43 of Warley.

We learn here that Albright and Wilson graciously decided to “stop work” on a new chemical in the building concerned. The accompanying spin is just typical of their PR spin machine. An advert of how many people they employed- (2000) (wow that’s a lot and we’re so important an employer in the area) contrasted by the fact that it was the first fatality in 15 years    (ergo what a great record we have).

 

“considered “negligible” by the company”

 

On 8th March from the same paper we have the usual band wagon of the amateur politicians thanking the emergency services. This borough, formed out of Oldbury was of course so rotten and packed with Albright and Wilson shills that it doesn’t really warrant any further comment. I’m sure for Thomas Gough’s family , it was a “catastrophe”.

 

And then on 23rd March at the inquest the paper also reports on yet another whitewash and unsatisfactory explanation as to what caused this explosion and a man’s death. The verdict of “death by misadventure” is totally unsatisfactory as this implies some dangerous risk that was taken voluntarily. The fact that Albright and Wilson’s spokesman states that it was not an experiment but a normal process operation just drops them even further into the shit.

If Mr Sigsmith didn’t know then who the bloody hell would? So secretive were this lot of their process operations and experimental procedures that they would have absolutely no intention of making public knowledge of anything that went wrong- because scientists can never be wrong can they? The claims that a replication of the “experiment”- ( oh so it was an experiment and not a normal process operation then) do not constitute the conditions that occurred in the controlled conditions of the plant?

The fact that the coroner points out the bright light explosion thus looking for an explanation from AW does not appear to have been followed up when Sigsmith provides the answer that this could have been an electricity flash. Given that people from Sutton Coldfield and Yardley saw this explosion, I think it rather unlikely that they would have observed such an event from such a distance.

It just surprises me that a phantom fag thrower hadn’t been blamed like that of the deaths in 1951- though of course , that was not proven either in that set of circumstances as to how Albright and Wilson staff had set out to work one morning, never to return home.

I have found no further information as to what bullshit explanation Albright and Wilson would eventually come up with.

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Albright’s toxic archive links #9 A fatal blow (2)

This post deals with another fatal explosion at the Albright and Wilson factory in Langley, this time from 1951. This year was of course the much celebrated “centenary year” of the enterprise between the two chemical proprietors.

The Yorkshire Evening Post from 10th July 1951 was quick off the mark, detailing early reports of what had taken place at the Research and Development plant.

More detail came later in the Birmingham Daily Gazette the following day detailing how the toss of a coin proved eventful for one man and left another dead. Joseph Cutler aged 30 of Smethwick died from his injuries when the drying oven exploded.

A quote from a survivor is quite telling.

“The work in this department is dangerous because phosphorus burns the flesh. We have to wear long coats and rubber boots”

The article reveals that the dead man’s father also worked at the factory before quoting W.B Albright who immediately attempts to pour cold water on any blame for the factory- a typical ploy that resurfaces many times in the future, just as it had about the God awful cat piss smell that they and particularly he had created.

The article also confirms that several other men were badly burnt and hospitalised, with one, Joseph Partridge of Langley “dangerously ill”

It would transpire that he also died from his injuries, as the article from 12th July in the Birmingham Daily Gazette confirms.

 

I believe that the building in question had been given planning permission just one year earlier reference OB/48/50  ” proposed erection of research laboratory” and had been approved on 28/6/50 by that rotten borough council.

If one had any doubt about how little this company cared for its workforce, shifting blame to almost anything to escape questions which should have been asked about its own shabby operations, then what transpired out of the official subsequent inquest some time later should leave no doubt. The article from The Birmingham Daily Gazette of 28th September 1951 reveals a company desperate to shift blame onto anything but itself.

How is it possible that the cause of this explosion was not known? Was coroner Playne on the AW payroll, given their connections with health boards in the area? The idea that a cigarette end could have been dropped is total speculation, and I believe highly unlikely given the manner in which the staff at this company would have been fully aware of the risks involved- unless of course they were utterly stupid.

The most interesting thing to come of this hushed up whitewash and cover up of an inquest is the relevant question asked from the fire brigade as to why they had not been called- as professionals to deal with the fire. The pillock Jackson, obviously so in charge of the situation that one of his own died and others were burnt , was obviously briefed on what to say, and then chirping in we have Messrs Topley and Inglis who appear able to conclude that their chemicals, the way in which they were stored and handled had nothing to do with the explosion. Topley is perhaps best known for providing the formula for the disastrous joke known as AW bombs– which are even today causing flammable problems wherever they are discovered.

In the centenary book the following is noted on page 322

“His services to the company were many and various. Not least of them was his tactful handling of an indignant (Barking) Lady Mayor and Corporation when an explosion, which they believed was due in part to phosphide getting into the works drains, blew up a row of sewer manholes in River Road.”

 

I have to say that Albright and Wilson escaped here with corporate manslaughter- that is what would be investigated today by legislation designed to route out employers such as them. The toss of a coin was obviously in the hands of a fate already sealed by poor industrial practices with chemicals dangerous to the employees and the wider community at large.

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Albright’s toxic archive links #8 A fatal blow (1)

 

The Albright and Wilson factory site at Langley is regarded by some misguided individuals as a “heritage” site- usually those who were or are involved within the chemical industry themselves and believe that in some way we should all be very grateful to those who established these polluting environmental death sites in one small place.

But Albright and Wilson’s dire record in not only polluting the local environment is perhaps only surpassed by the manner in which some of its staff paid the ultimate price with their lives for making the insidious cult of money making Quaker weirdo’s a shed load of money so that they could live in comfort in leafy Edgbaston and other such more prosperous none black country industrial locations.

This article from 1899 from The Bromyard News. is one such early example of a fatal blow at the Trinity Street factory- the year before  founder Arthur Albright at 89 popped his clogs.

Poor Eli Guest (54), of Langley along with two other men were burnt when a boiler exploded, and he did not survive.

Making phosphorus, as well as using it at all was a very dangerous business. The photo below from nine years prior to this incident shows a group of men, one of them also named Guest with phosphorus retorts, the old way of making this insidious chemical. Given the manner in which whole families worked for the two controlling families, it would not be unreasonable to believe that they may have been related.

Though the pure fantasy of the company presented in the centennial book “100 years of phosphorus making” attempts to portray the Quaker families as some form of moral heroes overcoming adversity, the reality of the situation is that the Albright and Wilson’s were at the very centre of high society and its potty traditions, and controlled matters of law/commerce for their own personal monetary gain. Part of this was class servitude of other local families- and it would continue over generations in this way.

From 100 years of phosphorus making (1951)

Some of these old retorts still exist in Oldbury used to make a wall, their contents long since spilt or dumped in some piece of ground or cut, and no doubt still lurking somewhere it shouldn’t.

Why?

Albright and Wilson the company would boast long and loud over the years about its convalescent homes and providing their employees with care, but the Quaker philosophy was really one of managing living automatons to replace others, and damaged goods would be better out of sight than a reminder to others of the very real dangers that their workforce faced.

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