Very dodgy goings on at The Gower Tip

The sister dumping ground site to rattlechain lagoon –The Gower Tip is another of Albright and Wilson’s toxic legacies for the future. I have written extensively about this site and will provide those links within this post. This post is an update on developments which have come to a head over the course of the last week and follows the last blog I wrote about this site in October when it was apparent that Rhodia’s environmental consultants, ERM,  were pottering about on this site after having conducted a tree massacre earlier.

The site is immediately adjacent to the Birmingham Canal Old Mainline , and you would not be able to see much from this restricted view, except the token warning signs from “Rhodia Limited”- , the convenience name under which  Solvay operate for the Albright and Wilson mothballed shit holes that they attempt to distance themselves from their own Belgian brand.

There’s a site welfare cabin hiding in there.

It is also unfortunately now bordered by homes built by Morris Homes – specifically GEORGE WOOD AVENUE AND BHULLAR WAY.

Some basic info before reading on….

This site was another “contentious site” given a site licence numbered SL32  by the useless former West Midlands County Council in 1977  and more latterly EAWML 40910 by the Environment Agency. Prior to this, Alfred Matty the canal carrier took waste to the site by barge,  as they had at Rattlechain. The licence allowed Albright and Wilson to deposit the following.

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/year

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.

From the SL32 licence

I uncovered more about this site when looking into the granting of the licence by the WMCC waste disposal committee.

“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 e.t.c. 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 licence was surrendered on 22 April 1994 and cancelled with effect from that date. Sandwell council in an FOI request in regards to investigating contaminated sites stated; “The Gower Tip has been assigned an inspection priority category of 3, i.e. contaminants may be present but are unlikely to have an unacceptable impact on key targets. The site has yet to be inspected under the strategy and therefore no determination has been made in respect of its condition; it is therefore not possible to say at this stage when this site will be subject to a more
detailed investigation.”

I have recently uncovered a news article prior to the surrender of the SL32 licence, but it is important to remember that “surrender” does not mean that the site does not pose a risk- especially as this surrender long predated any built development around the borders.

This is from the Sandwell Evening Mail from 1990, and forms yet another of Albright and Wilson’s toxic archives. It appears that “a grass fire” had started at this site and that the fire brigade had had to force entry into the site to fight the area affected. Once there it is confirmed that they found a 45 gallon drum of phosphorus pentasulphide- part of the hazardous licenced waste allowed to be deposited there. We have of course come across the dubious “grass fire” before at Rattlechain, when Rhodia left some barrels out to dry that had been in the white phosphorus contaminated sediment as bird deterrents when roped together across the lake. It was certainly this that was the cause of the grass setting fire, and I have little doubt that the flammable chemicals on the Gower Tip were the cause of this one too.

What is more bizarre is the claim by the WMFS spokesman that they were unaware of the site. I have to say that I just do not believe this statement at all, but if true shows just how little WMFC actually knew about such sites at this time. Just months earlier they had fought another chemical initiated fire at Rattlechain caused by a tanker driver dumping a barrel of white phosphorus waste , and attempted to put out community concern with bullshit words that were straight out of the AW spin book. Indeed AW’s own fire service boasted about training with the professionals, which makes it even more implausible that the works management at the site had never told them about the Gower Tip, and its hazardous contents.

One also wonders how they had missed the required hazardous waste area notice board at the entrance to the site, that is of course if it had not gone missing , as it frequently breached licence conditions at rattlechain!

It is even more of concern as to the type of hazardous chemicals if the fire service had used water hoses.  In doing so they would have made the situation worse, and put both them and any passers by in immediate danger.

Phosphorus pentasulphide’s reaction with water gives off hydrogen sulphide gas, which is toxic in itself and smells like rotten eggs, as well as phosphoric acid which would cause people immediate eye and breathing problems.

P4S10 + 16 H2O → 4 H3PO4 + 10 H2S

As I had observed in October, Rhodia/Solvay’s environmental consultants ERM were pottering about at the site, and I speculated that this may have had something to do with the ludicrous garden city proposals that believe that it would be a good idea to build more houses next to this unremediated chemical dump.

This week I happened to notice a mechanical digger present at the site and actively being operated! It was quite apparent from my view at George Wood Avenue that this was moving earth and bricks from near the border of this Morris Homes site.

Disturbing contaminated land Gower Tip

site adjacent to people's homes. What were you told about the land near your houses? George Wood Avenue, Bhullah Way Oldbury

Posted by Rattlechain lagoon- What lies beneath on Friday, 21 June 2019

This operation saw a waiting dumper vehicle ready to receive these materials which was then driven to the middle of the site were it was tipped.

I then went up into the Gods at Bhullar Way for a more commanding view of the scene. It was apparent that a site welfare cabin was on site, in an area obscured from the canal. Next to this was some form of water bowser as well as skips waiting to receive something, and given the Veiola label on them, no doubt hazardous materials.

What was also apparent is that the dumper truck was dumping the waste into trenches, which must have been already dug to receive this waste. This is certainly no vegetation management exercise, so don’t come out with this bullshit explanation Dutton or anyone else reading this, I have the evidence! This , given what we have already discussed about the known materials on this site just inches away from people’s homes!

Another interesting observation was the apparent removal of The Rhodia danger notice board. As the site is not accessible to the public from Lower City Road- (it is now human shielded by a school and a playing field), one wonders if this will ever be put back, or just left there gathering toxic dust?

I don’t think that this was a tombola either!

The extent of shielding the public in their homes from the asbestos contaminated and chemicals in the soil is derisory, but it is of greater concern to me that people who live in these houses know very little about what they are actually living next to, just like those on the former sewage works site at Rattlechain.

Morris homes of course are not around any more, but this priceless boast when marketing these houses cannot be bettered in terms of freshly squeezed bullshit.

IMGA0387

In light of these dangerous works taking place I made immediate enquires of the EA and Sandwell council. It is Sandwell council’s job under part 2a of the environmental protection Act 1990 to monitor such sites and uphold protection of the public from them. The response from them was delayed I have to say, and when it came from their contaminated land officer, stated that “it was a planning matter”. Well I’m afraid I don’t really buy that!

DC/19/62668 | Screening opinion for proposed remediation works at The Gower Tip. | Land Adjacent Former Sportsground (The Gower Tip) Lower City Road Tividale Oldbury

It appears that the bogus version of Solvay using ERM, put in this scoping opinion earlier this year in terms of remediation works- perhaps a bit bloody late 25 years after the licence had been surrendered and now houses built right next door!

 Sandwell council replied to this at the link below quoting the 2017 legislation that had not been in place when Rhodia carried out “remediation works” at Rattlechain lagoon in 2013. This work would no doubt have required a similar “opinion”.

DC_19_62668-SCREENING_OPINION_LETTER-991807

The planning officer told me that she and the contaminated land officer had met with representatives from the company about this at an earlier date and told them that this would be required and planning permission for the works. (I smell an FOI coming on there) 😛

It is noted from this written response that planning permission is specifically referred to in terms of submitting literature regards human health and environmental health effects of moving around known hazardous materials buried in soil, and the toxic soil itself. People can be exposed to many pathways both air born and through potential liquid materials reaching their homes.

I sent the officer the pictures above and noted her concern at events. I do hope that SMBC, in a week with “clean air day” when they boast about cutting vehicle emissions by using electric vehicles, will actually do something of more use in preventing dangerous substances affecting people’s health by ludicrous and reckless unsanctioned operations going on at this site currently.

The timing of all this are of great concern, and should be to any local residents living in this vicinity. There are clear reasons why Solvay are doing this work at this time, all connected to SMBC’s ludicrous “Dudley Port Supplementary Planning Document” to do with creating housing. The map below from this document shows the proposed sites adjacent to the Gower Tip, which is unlabelled, but I have correctly doctored below.

Note- there is not a single mention of the Gower Tip and its hazardous constraints mentioned in this bullshit document.

Is the aim of the site owners and their environmental consultants to remove the contaminated material forming an immediate border with the houses and dumping it in the middle of the site to replace it with “clean cover” prior to approval for “remediation works”?  Is it then the case that laboratory tests will be carried out on this same newly laid material amazingly finding very little in the way of contamination meaning that they can all spin the line to local residents and the council that remediation can be delivered successfully and safely? They could even get the Public Health England and someone attached to SMBC who used to work for them to set up a “steering group” like they did at Rattlechain and come out with a bullshit human health risk assessment.

Who’s to know? Certainly not SMBC who have “yet to inspect the site”, and are relying on the honesty of this inherently dishonest company to give them the facts? But is it in the interests of SMBC themselves to want to find anything harmful in the soil around people’s homes, when they and WMCA Tonka the Mayor Andy Street and his entourage are so committed to “brownfield first”?

I can only urge local residents in the vicinity to contact their local councillors and environmental health at SMBC if they have concernsbecause they should have!

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“Crap sites for residential”

They really are desperate. I’m talking about housing allocations and the phoney “need for more houses” based on the constructed lies of the house building industry and their political bought friends of influence, by the politicisation of homelessness , abysmal immigration figures and the desire to drum up more council tax to disguise the major fraud and theft going on in town halls. Unfortunately it’s difficult to find any political party who support development on so called “green belt land”, but instead think it is a good idea to build new homes on shit “brownfield land” polluted and left for decades, and even more deluded that these sites can be “cleaned up” because some paid environmental consultant can write a pack of lies with the knowledge that none of the promoted claims will ever be challenged by any regulator.

“Green belt” land remains a place out of dwelling bounds for the privileged few, where all of those championing “regeneration” of  urban sites instead live, whilst towns continue to be overpopulated and increasingly more dangerous from the fallout of contaminated constructors playing LEGOLAND on sites of brown.

Land around Rattlechain lagoon has been misused for decades by tatters and foundry sand dumping Charlatans. I have gone into some of the issues of “misery” that was inflicted on local residents by the bizarre arrangement between a dodgy quango (The Black Country Development Corporation- BCDC) and a “land reclamation” company who changed their name that often, like a whore’s underwear, to leave a twisted legacy of planning applications and dubious “improvements” to the area. Some 30 years on, to the utter failure of the BCDC, most of this land remains barren and not “reclaimed” at all, with buried waste beneath the mounds of black foundry dross that was piled without purpose on top of it. Sandwell council in their wisdom even fenced off this “derelict land” to the cost of the taxpayer, to “protect” local residents, but where the f#ck was the site owner?

Glowing welcome!

Nature has taken over with greenery, and that is the way it should remain, though it appears with the ludicrous “garden city” promoted by a pigmy clone of the BCDC, as well as the unwanted and undemocratic Tory Tonka Mayor, that the misery may one day return to the former Duport’s tip land bank.

What is certain is that the profitable part of the slew of planning applications, starting in the early 1990’s, were really about developing the former Severn Trent Water Tividale sewage works- (now Callaghan and Wilson Drives). The sewage sludge itself was offloaded and layered into the Duport’s Tip area- it was not therefore ever removed off the original “reclamation” application site.

The process of this development is long and complex, and I am not going to go into it all in this post, but what is certain is that Rattlechain lagoon itself played a major part, and remains a major constraint to development around it.

The Unitary Development Plan- an SMBC document published at intervals of ten years earmarks land allocations for different uses. What is clear is that this former Severn Trent works off John’s Lane, coming to the end of its life in 1988, were at different times tabled for both industrial, then residential use. But it appears that there was much debate from within SMBC itself amongst planners as to what the future held with such sites as these.

The following discussion took place between Robert Lee and John Baylay of SMBC planning, with reference to a business development proposal by Darlinson Dyer for the sewage works site. The context of this is that a previous application by Mintworth for residential had been turned down, ref BCS2780 in July 1997, because of the adjacency to Rattlechain lagoon– then still actively in use. It is clear that there was some existing relationship between Darlinson Dyer and Mintworth, and that Severn Trent were also paying more than a passing interest in developments, even though they had offloaded this crap site to Mintworth in 1988.

In an email dated 29th April 2002, Robert Lee contacts Keith Bird (SMBC)  and Tony Rice (SMBC) complaining that he is being forced to report a departure from the adopted UDP to the cabinet advisory team (CAT). There is the mention of the name “STEVE”, and if this does not refer to the former head of legal services Steve Cork, I can think of only one councillor by this name who ever held a cabinet position around this time.

What is clear from this whinge, is that the planning officers appear to be being put under great pressure politically to identify residential sites, even if they are shit ones like this, but when these are turned back towards business sites, they have to justify these “departures”.

John Baylay, principal planning officer, and the man whose name appeared on virtually all of the planning applications decided in this area around this time replies to Lee in no uncertain terms, with the most astute observation of all in that

“It’s a crap site for residential”

He reveals that Development control and building consultancy opposed the reallocation of the site from business in the adopted UDP to residential “BECAUSE OF THE PROXIMITY OF THE SITE TO ALBRIGHT AND WILSON LAGOON WHICH IS A CHEMICAL WASTE TIP, BUT THEIR CONCERNS WERE IGNORED.”

The question which arises from this is what retarded thick fucking idiot in Sandwell council decided or overruled these professional officers advice in changing this site in the review of the UDP? Building homes next to one of the most contaminated sites in Europe that was still actively tipping a virtually unique hazardous waste stream. This cretin or cretins must have had some purely financial motive in doing so, in allowing a residential site next to this “potentially hazardous” neighbour “in both public safety and security terms”.

Baylay then outlines that SMBC are in the position of not being able to guarantee the safety of such a site in that they do not have any information from Rhodia who will not give up information into the public domain (don’t we know that), and that a risk assessment has not been carried out or agreed on by the EA or HSE.

Lee replies to this, again mentioning the mysterious “Steve” in that he will have to justify reasons for inconsistency. He then states that Steve would likely ask him about the “struggling housing figures” and that if other contaminated brownfield sites were investigated despite being lined up for housing, would this make all of them undeliverable?

The Darlinson Dyer proposals, in my view just a ruse to force local residents into preferring residential units rather than industrial ones, never materialised and eventually this “crap site” was turned into housing after the council’s refusal for the valid reasons stated by John Baylay above were overturned by a Bristol based idiot who knew nothing of the area. The case offered by SMBC at this planning inspectorate hearing , and the fact that Rhodia dropped their objections bizarrely at the last minute to avoid appearing and being cross examined about their dangerous white phosphorus containing site, was truly shocking and half hearted- costing the tax payer more in costs. Of course, Severn Stench who had offloaded this site did not pay a penny towards its remediation , or care anything about the unsuitability of the site for residential end use. WHERE DID THE POLLUTER PAY IN THIS INSTANCE ? AND WHAT A LEGACY WAS CREATED, AS ONE UNFORTUNATE RESIDENT CONNED OUT OF MONEY REPORTED.

BUYER BEWARE!

THE UNION OF THE TWO TURDS

Several years on and Sandwell council appear desperate to build on green spaces and particularly playing fields for their “struggling housing figures”. The latest strange deal which has been mooted for several years appears to involve them buying land infested with human excrement under the title of “Midlands Land Portfoilio”- an offshoot of Severn Trent’s disposable crap sites. This site is located in Friar Park, Wednesbury on the Walsall border, and next to a railway sidings at Bescot, that are themselves currently involved in a highly controversial HS2 sleeper factory proposal that SMBC councillors and Tom Watson claim to be against, (yet their officers have been dealing with Network Rail for years in bringing  it to fruition). It is difficult to imagine anyone wanting to buy a house in such a location. Yet SMBC are prepared to flush taxpayers money away by buying this valueless crap site from Severn Stench!

A warning from history- still there off Friar Park Road

 

Solid foundations

Severn Stench have an absolutely appalling record of environmental pollution- and currently their pollution of Smethwick hall park, as well as brook courses which feed it where birds have died after human excrement has entered the water, appears still unresolved.

Historic imagery overlay maps shows that very little has changed with the land uses in many decades, though houses in Friar Park themselves were also built on former sewage works. No doubt the layered crap was smeared into a playing field as a “gift” to the future by the crooks who wanted to facilitate built development there.

The areas are still definable from decades ago.

Documents submitted to the recent council’s cabinet meeting in a report outline the extent of the SMBC owned land and the adjoining Severn Stench land that they want to buy off this polluter.

friarparkshit1

“The Severn Trent site is known to contain sewage sludge up to seven metres deep with potential gas production and contamination with heavy metals. “

“It is considered unsuitable for foundations for construction and it is suggested that the sludge be moved and encapsulated with a capping layer into a bund as part of a redevelopment strategy. There are however potential future environmental liabilities associated with the acquisition. “

Wow what a bargain SMBC are getting from these private sector polluters  for this absolutely crap land!

Previously, politicians in Sandwell have denied that their motive in building new houses for the sake of it is to generate extra council tax in order to cover up their disastrous panache for blowing it on white elephant projects. But at 7.9 in this report, there is little hiding that this ludicrous deal is exactly motivated specifically for this purpose. That should cover the cost of more “special responsibility” bonuses for the cunning labour crooks at SMBC.

The remediation costs for this disaster waiting to happen has not even been calculated- and why would Severn Stench even have bothered to do this? No doubt the idiots at SMBC will declare that there is no environmental impact assessment needed either.

friarparkshit2

A map submitted with the report, (click link above), shows the parcels of SMBC land with the crap Severn Trent doughnut smack bang in the middle of it. It is this croissant of merde that you the taxpayer are going to pay this private company for the pleasure of owning. The blue line is the area of where the sleeper factory , which SMBC negotiated with Network rail to build and support, even though the local councillors claim to be against it. How can both of these projects possibly go together? No doubt the layered metres of shite in the stench area will be turned into “an acoustic bund”, otherwise known as a bank of shite to mask the new residents from the HS$ factory. My fear is that most of this crap will end up in the River Tame, just as a disastrous development at Hateley Heath delivered where fraudulent “green” technology claimed that this bitumen factory and associated spillages would be heat treated to remove it. It was a lie.

HS2 is of course an unwanted white elephant joke, but largely politically supported by the main parties. Meanwhile as Tory Tonka and his WMCA entourage continue to obsess about public transport by providing an antiquated rack on grooves so that a few lazy fat bastards do not have to walk a few extra hundred meters,  Birmingham and Wolverhampton Town centres resemble gridlocked building site no go areas.

The SMBC spinners, will also talk of keeping it local, whilst using outside national consultants and blow your shit investment. I am aware that they are also mooting the sale of Browns farm in West Bromwich FOR SPORTS PITCHES, to replace the many football pitches that they are flogging off elsewhere in the borough in bent investment deals and the ridiculous Commonwealth games that bankrupt Birmingham only wanted. No doubt they will go cap in hand to another quango that they have fleeced before in “Sport England” to achieve this- and this development is bizarrely inside Sandwell’s “greenbelt land”. That’s some “protection”- though no doubt any of this will get an environmental impact assessment either.

Farmer Giles 5 a side?

But why end there? Surely at 750 homes, SMBC are selling themselves short. Why fork out hundreds of thousands of pounds on bricks and mortar when materials are free to hand? I’m sure that this crap from Severn Trent’s offload could be recycled and made into “mud” huts, like the one built below from cow manure. Just think of how much money the Sandwell socialists could generate whilst “saving the environment”. I’m just joking of course, but with this Loony council, I reckon some lightbulbs may just have switched on….

Another satisfied customer

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Old maps of the BCN toxic trail

Some time ago I put in some freedom of information requests to the former British Waterways, now The Canal and Rivers Trust, and in some of these responses came upon a collection of historic deed maps that they held. These are a fascinating collection of local history and how the areas have changed over time, factories and contractors who worked alongside these waterways and how many of them are no longer in existence, such as “The Oldbury loop”. Much of this hand written information dates from the 19th Century and tracks some of the changes that occurred and when.

A more modern view of the toxic trail between the chemical arm and Rattlechain lagoon, via the Gower branch.

Specifically I obtained maps of the majority of the journey of the toxic trail between Albright and Wilson’s Chemical arm and Rattlechain- the end point of their waste tipping operations. In this post I have attempted to put these maps together for the first time to show this route. The only one that I am missing appears to be sheet 26 between The Gower Branch junction and Rattlechain, which can be viewed on a more modern map HERE. Click on each picture below to trace the journey and zoom in on the info recorded.

 rattlechain  missing sheet          

                                                                                       

Top of Gower branchHoughton arm from ICI

From Bottom right to left, then top right to left

Entrance from Houghton chemical arm going left onto Birmingham Old mainline canal. sheet no 50

Continuation towards Oldbury under Seven Stars Road the entrance to the filled in Churchbridge branch and associated basins up to Highbridge at Furnace Street/ now in the Rounds Green Road area.Sheet no 49 

Sheet 48 shows the rest of the Oldbury loop, not taken by the Matty boats.

Continuation of old mainline canal, showing several pieces of land were subsequently bought by Accles and Pollocks. Also showing a part of the filled in Oldbury loop  and The Oldbury brickworks.Sheet 47

Continuation of canal through Brades Bridge area towards Gower Branch. Sheet 46

Gower basin and entrance to the Gower Branch. Also shows Brades Hall colliery, the boiler works and the Hange Furnaces and associated basins further on. Sheet 45

Gower branch/Monks Tip to the junction of mainline canal. Sheet ?

RATTLECHAIN Brickworks/lagoon areaSheet  25

Final destination!

Netherton Branch/Stour Valley brickworks area . Sheet 24

When one considers that British waterways and Alfred Matty’s used the lagoon for a dredging tip from the BCN network and all of the industries that are shown along this network, as well as the white phosphorus of Albright and Wilson that would have polluted this canal, one can perhaps appreciate that this truly was a toxic trail with a poison apple at the end of it.

 

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Profits over pollution

This post is about the moral decay of two large companies and how they have caused major problems for others whilst profiting from their failure to prevent pollution in one case and total ignorance to prevent it happening in the other. We are talking here about Severn Trent Water and Persimmon Homes.

I have dealt with the disgusting manner in which the former company have been responsible for allowing a pool in Smethwick to be contaminated with human excrement on the sister website to this , Save Our Sandwell Canada geese, and also how their asset in another park led to the issues of bird deaths there. I believe the human excrement to be the source of all deaths  at both sites, and there is no evidence to dispute this most likely of scenarios- after all swallowing shit is not going to be good for anything right?

I am still at war with this company as they attempt to put some form of belated spin on their efforts to cleanse their sins of apathy and incompetence at being unable to detect “unmapped assets” and “misconnections.” But they are liars, and are also attempting to dodge a legitimate Environmental Information Regulations request, which I have now taken to The Information Commissioner’s office who will hopefully make them comply with the law.

I do not feel sorry for Severn Stench, not one bit. I do not feel sorry for them because they are a failure, and serial environmental polluter. I do not feel sorry for them because it was released last week that they had made mammoth 6.8% profits for the year to March 31  to £563 million. Of particular note is the fantastical tale told by Chief Executive of Stench Liv Garfield in the accompanying “good news” prattle:

This has been a year where our teams have really stepped up, whether in response to customer needs in the face of one of the hottest and driest summers we’ve seen or by being named by Ofwat as one of the top companies in the sector when we received fast-track status for our future plans.

“At the heart of all of that is our drive to succeed for all of our stakeholders, which is shown in the results we’re announcing today.

“They demonstrate not only that we can deliver for our investors but also that we’re putting ourselves at the heart of the communities in which we live and work by building a lasting legacy for future generations.”

Yes Ms Garfield, in Smethwick you have built a turdberg of shite that has poisoned birds.

Children continue to play in this faecal molasses termed “mud” by the useless Sandwell council- a repetition of the same lie that Severn Stench initially were spewing. I have an FOI in with the EA which should hopefully clear up the extent of the lie that was originally being told by this water company.

Over in West Bromwich, and a little update on the dire Liberty Drawn Tubes site that I blogged about back in March. This site was given planning permission last year by SMBC for residential development to Persimmon Homes. I had reported on the complete lack of security at this site and how dangerous chemicals had been left behind in this open all hours derelict void. People had been gaining access via the canal- a waterway so heavily polluted already with contamination and silt that it is now unnavigable, and also dumping  barrels of the stuff into the water.

I submitted a planning enforcement form to SMBC and have also made numerous phone calls to numerous agencies , but without much in response from any of them. I spoke to someone called “Anthony” from SMBC’s environmental health department in March, but never heard anything further.

In April there was the predicted serious fire at this asbestos laden shithole. There is this priceless comment from WMFC.

“A spokesman for West Midlands Fire Service said approximately 180,000 litres of water was used from the canal, but most of it was recirculated back into the canal.” 

Photo Express and Star

The gutted asbestos roof

So now the canal is even more contaminated with the chemicals released from this factory. I’m afraid I am losing respect for West Midlands Fire Service as an entity. They along with the police have stood by and done nothing about this factory site alongside Sandwell council. They are all merely redundant actors on this stage of toxicity.

I’d like to enquire as to why Persimmon Homes are the most irresponsible housing developer in Britain?

I have attempted in desperation to  parlez with the absent Persimmon, but as you can see from below, customer service is not exactly their strongpoint.

This Guardian article from February reveals more about this housing developer and their coining it in through dubious means, as well as providing second rate building schemes across the country.

They are reported to have made a £1 billion pound profit. “Last year the company paid an average of just £31,536 for each plot of land, and spent £112,295 on actually building each home.”

One can see how these York based cheapskates operate, obviously security is not something that they care about.  The help to buy scheme can be seen here for the fraud that it is, as is the “need” to build more homes. You can see why developers and their political friends are so keen to build on every last bit of green space, as well as derelict foreign owned crap sites like Liberty Drawn Tubes.

The link between these two stories is that big companies really do not care at all about local communities that they soil- just like Albright and Wilson/Rhodia/Solvay.

 

 

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DANGER! AW BOMBS AT LARGE #1

 

I have looked extensively at the production, use and ultimate abandonment of these useless but highly dangerous white phosphorus filled half pint milk bottles, manufactured by Albright and Wilson during The Second World War for an anti-tank guerrilla warfare campaign that never transpired. Over seven million of them were produced between 1940-42 at Oldbury and satellite factories , and then dispatched to Home Guard units around the country in wooden boxes of 24.

All came with clear instructions for use, and some later designs were made to be fired from a gun known as the Northover projector. Many were used for demonstrations and training, but by 1943 it was clear that they were useless for anything but gathering dust.

AW BOMB PRECAUTION SIGN

Copyright I Carroll

Many had been buried under water or in back gardens, and then as time passed by, so people forgot like absent minded squirrels as to where they had buried them.

It is widely believed that many ended up destroyed at Rattlechain lagoon before AW became a private limited company, conveniently operating the site as a Government contractor for the ministry of supply before their own waste stream went into the drink.

But some AW bombs, or “the number 76 grenade” as they were officially known have been uncovered by accident only after many years from housing developments or curious individuals with metal detectors. Some have caused serious injuries to those unfortunate to have dug them up. The risks are both from breathing in the phosphorus pentoxide released as well as the danger of the phosphorus igniting and burning flesh.  This one of three posts looks at some of the finds and how the incidents were dealt with  by the authorities via the press articles of the day.

AW bomb diagram and description

The dangers of these poison bottles falling into the wrong hands are demonstrated in the story below from The Scotsman 28th August 1945. “Gangsters” had stolen some AW bombs from an ARP store and had thrown them at a man causing serious burns.

This article from The Western Mail is dated 26th April 1946. It appears that a child had wandered down the basement of a local Government building and got burnt. This was once again an Air Raid Precautions store, indicating that perhaps they had taken charge of these incendiary scrap that the Home Guard could not handle. Obviously the AW bombs stored here were not “empty”.

A Portadown Times 28th September 1956 article reveals another type of white phosphorus containing grenade, not manufactured by AW, though the p4 contained within it would have been.

A boy had been burned by the number 80 grenade after it had been dumped and then retrieved in a River from a site used for incendiary training during the war.

 

No 80 Grenade copyright IWM

 

A Birmingham Daily Post story from 30th May 1958 demonstrates how the supposedly German anti tank weapon ended up targeting a British bulldozer! Developments for housing uncovering these devices would become a very familiar theme going forward. Another AW bomb was taken away by firemen in a water filled drum.

These articles are further reminders of how dangerous these poisonous milk bottles were. Obviously Albright and Wilson’s labours would require a better solution to get rid of them.

 

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The last phosphorus canal carrier

I was under the impression that all of those who worked on the extremely hazardous phosphorus canal waste carrying operation for Albright and Wilson by Alfred Matty’s of Coseley were gone.

But not so!

I have previously outlined this toxic trail from Albright and Wilson’s chemical arm (sometimes known as “The Houghton Arm”) to Rattlechain, and also how this hazardous waste affected the health of one of the men working for Matty’s, Enoch Clewes who described the lagoon as “a place in which nothing could live”. 

I was therefore stunned when Paul Bartlett contacted the blog to say that he was one of the very few men who operated the Matty boats on the phosphorus canal traffic and wanted to tell the blog his story!

Paul wrote

“I worked there for about two years starting in March 1972. As well as working the phos boats I also worked the tug Tycho on contract jobs such as laying down pipes ready to carry petrol from the North sea…. myself and Tom Heritage used to work on the canal boats taking the phosphorous waste to the Rattle Chain tip. It was a very heavy sludge which had to be stirred so that it could be pumped out of the boats. If the water / phosphorous mix was wrong and you bumped the boats in the locks or brushed against a bridge, the sludge would catch fire giving of blue flames. To give you an idea how much sludge is in the pool, we used to deliver 8 boats a day for 5 days and 4 on Saturday. Each boat had 20 tons in them.”

I met Paul and recorded his oral history of his time on the canals and specifically his recollections of the phosphorus traffic to rattlechain. He also kindly let me use some of his photographs and original work contract with Matty’s. This is the most compelling account ever described of this journey from a primary source, and the WLBRL team will be creating a youtube video of this using Paul’s record. Watch this space!

There is much to digest here about working practices and other matters, which I will look at at the end of Paul’s story. His words are in blue italics. I have used some links and also pictures from David Wilson and Roy Martin– previous primary witnesses to this trade  to illustrate the last phosphorus canal carrier’s tale…..

“My name is Paul Bartlett, and I used to work for Matty’s, a canal company. I used to transport the phosphorus waste from Albright and Wilson’s chemical arm to their Rattlechain Tip at Dudley Port.

(It was) out of an interest in the canals of being one of the founder members of the Dudley Canal Preservation Society. My Dad and I both joined together, and we were the 12th and 13th members. My Father finally ended up being one of the trustees of Dudley canal trust.

But I also used to like boats as I lived in Wednesbury. From the bottom of our garden you could actually see in the distance the Tame Valley Canal, and when I used to go to school, the playground, sports ground was right alongside the Tame Valley Canal. You’d see different boats coming by, which I later knew to be Caggy Stevens, and some of the Len Leigh people…… and I got to know them and I used to cycle along the canal and got to meet all the canal people and the Thomas Clayton people . I became very friendly with Billy Beech, and he taught me how to stem a pair of loaded boats. There was Dennis Moore who used to work for….Keays, Peter Keays- Ken Keay at Walsall, and they had “the Judith Ann” and the metal lister boat.

When they stopped carrying, Caggy took over their cargos, and the boats for them. Ernie Thomas was still about, he had contracts but Caggy used to do those, he was a real character. I met him a few times. I worked his passenger boat for him at times. Then the Lycits had got a contract coming up for Leigh Environmental for taking effluent, pumping effluent to Walsall Wood colliery , but before it actually got underway there was an explosion at the pit and they had to stop putting effluent down it. And with that when Billy Breech heard about it he asked me to go and work for Matty’s, so I went to Matty’s.

Matty’s boat yard in Coseley in 1975

It was quite comical, I went for an interview, and Sue Roberts interviewed me, although I got there and it was a foregone conclusion; they wanted me; they knew I could do it, she told me, she sat at this grand desk, and she said “you know Jimmy Yates don’t  you? . I said “yeah”. She said this desk is the one his Dad blew his brains out at because he couldn’t stand the trouble that Jimmy and his brothers were causing him!

Paul’s contract with Alfred Matty and Sons

And I went on the phos, I worked the phos for a bit, then I went on the Tycho and worked the pipe jobs. We had two boats on the pipe jobs, there was myself on the Tycho, and Jack Kent with the Pacific. We also had a tug called “The Governor”, and we had another little motorboat we used as a cabin cruiser that we’d use in an emergency. The motors we had, the Stratford, and The Aldgate which were Grand Union Motors, and The Maureen which was the boat I used which was built for Barlows. It’s got different stories about different names, I was told to call it “The Blake” but it ended up being called “the Maureen” and we believe that was after Neville’s fancy piece”, as he had.

The Matty boat Tycho, , at Factory locks Tipton. Pictured is Jack Kent. Copyright Paul Bartlett.

The manager there was a chap called “sarge”, he was a police sergeant from Bilston, and at the time on the boats, there was myself, Albert Brace, Tom Heritage and Jack Kent. There was a lad called “Raffy” on the boat dock, he used to paint and black the boats. And then we had the fitter…sorry I can’t remember his name. I can see him, but I can’t remember his name, he joined while I was there. And he was a good guy he worked on lorry engines and things like that but he got quite fascinated about the boat engines which was really good, he did a good job for the boats.

No pension or sickness benefit!

We had certain boats that were fitted with two stanks for the phosphorus. Basically there was a stank across the middle of the boat, and on either end a few feet back from the bows and the stern. They could also be used for dredging boats as well. The new railway boats, we had a lot of which were completely open so it could be used for anything, any normal cargo, and what Matty’s did, we had metal stretchers which used to go across the boats, and on quite a few we took the metal stretchers out and put chains in instead to hold the boats tight together. On the stank boats , I think we even had chain on those, ’cause we used to go down Tividale locks, they were quite wide, and sometimes the boats would get stuck in them. We got quite good at walking on the chains across the boats, we had a good tight-rope walk at the time.

The Maureen with associated apparatus. Copyright David Wilson.

Working the actual phos boats, we used to start at the arm, and we’d fit up at night, when we got back. I would leave the motorboat underneath (The Maureen), underneath the motorway bridge, because the boat cabin leaked, and the boats weight cabin kept it dry. Then first thing in the morning we would leave the chemical armand it’s like an acute junction to get out.

The Houghton chemical arm from Albright and Wilson on right crossing underneath the M5 motorway

So what we used to do, we had two scaffolding poles, drove into the ground. So you’d come with the motorboat slowly and started off and jump off the stern end of the boat, and the rope, you’d warp it round one pole, feed it out to get the boat swinging, and then the next one to swing it right out, then jump back on the boat, wind the engine up and then you’d got straight up and it pulled the loading boat behind, what was called tail chaining. You had a piece of rope, what, the whole thing would be about 3 foot long, with a piece of rope ,a little length of chain, and a piece of rope again. You had 1 foot 6 of rope, 3 foot chain, then 1 foot 6 rope again, which would go on the stud, which we called “the dolly” on the back of the motor boat. That would go over the dolly on the railway boat that we used.

Matty Phosphorus waste boat Maureen 1972, about to descend the Brades Locks with the railway boat en route to rattechain. Picture Copyright. Roy Martin

We’d go along there till the top of the Tividale locks and turn with a right angle junction.  As you got the boat lined up with the lock, we’d approach slowly, then you’d make sure the railway boat caught up with the motorboat. Then you’d make sure the railway boat was on the inside of the motorboat turning right. You’d then take the chain off, the loaded railway boat would push the stern of the motorboat round at 90 degrees. And the railway boat would follow down the boat and because like after the locks at the roving bridge, there was like a seven foot or eight foot gap on the left where the motor boat would go in and the railway boat would right up straight into the lock. So we used to take the railway boat down first, and then we’d go back and take the motorboat down, and we’d couple up at the bottom lock, go down to Dunkirk Stop and we’d used to have to use the left hand side of the stop, because the right hand stop in those days was all silted up.

1965, Matty boat descending the Brades Locks en route to discharge hazardous cargo at rattlechain lagoon. Note the rattlechain brickworks buildings and stack still in evidence to the top left of the picture. Also the staining of chemicals on the boat. Picture Copyright David Wilson, reproduced with permission.

And one day I came down, and this was about 6 o clock in the morning, and a “Noddy boat” (pleasure cruiser) was tied up in the stop. I hoped we didn’t get stuck through! Luckily as my motor boat being loaded went to stop, it pushed all the water in the stop, and the surge against the Noddy boat ripped out his mooring stakes and shoved him out the stop. My words weren’t too pleasant to him!

Then we’d get to the tip, we pulled up alongside the tip. We had a big like log grate, I say log, it was a big chunk of metal, I think it may have been an old railway chair on the chain which was attached to the bank. We’d put that over the side of the boat. We then had like a long shovel, when I say shovel It was like a 90 degree long arm about 15 foot arm.

The Pumphouse

We used to go up and down the boat with that to get the sludge going again and we’d get the pipe out of the pumphouse, which was about 1 foot diameter , terrible trying to get it without being forced and a right game to get it out, and then we had to prime the pump and that was a right blighter. We had to get the water out of the canal, it was all like a little Villiers hand pump, though the pump was rotary, the main pump to get it going.

The Maureen passing Rattlechain on a return leg. Picture David Wilson

And because the phos. used to get into it, it was always corroded. So we’d have to pump like mad, and the one day the handle on it actually broke while I was pumping! So you’d get it all pumped out  and so once the motorboat was done, you’d get the two stanks of the motorboat done , you’d then pull the railway boat into position, stir that up, put the pump in that , while that was pumping, you’d then go down with the motorboat to the bank by the Netherton Junction  and turn the boat round and come back up, then you’d finish pumping the one stank out then put the pipe into the other one , pump that out. Then we’d then come up back the locks, back to the Dunkirk Stop up the locks, back to the chemical arm.

1971, Matty boat Maureen heading in the direction of Oldbury. Note the pumphouse building  on the right of the picture on the towpath just partially in shot. Picture Copyright David Wilson, reproduced with permission.

When we got to the chemical arm, what we used to do, we’d let the railway boat go by, come up alongside and then we’d reverse the motor up the chemical arm towing the railway boat up behind it in reverse. So then set ready to go off. We’d then go up to Albright and Wilson’s when they’d loaded. We’d leave the railway boat at the side for the staff to load. But we would then load the motorboat. And it was like a water crane What steam engines use – the arms swung over the boat and it used to pour it in again. We had like a metal log that dredged the bottom to fill it up.

The Albright and Wilson effluent plant on the left, intersected by the chemical arm, and to the right, boats of what appear to be two full cargos of the white phosphorus waste

So we’d do that ,we’d get the boat about loaded up , there would be another railway boat ready, so we’d couple up with that , take that and stop underneath the motorway bridge then carry on do another trip , we did two trips per day. So we did that twice a day with two boats. There’s two of us on it, so we used to do four boats each per day for five days a week. On Saturdays, we used to do two boast each on the morning. The boats would carry about twenty tonnes on the boat, so all in all we’d do between the two of us it was , (thinking) 8, 16 , 20 boats a week, we used to do with the phosphorus tonnage in the sludge. Sometimes, if they didn’t get the mix quite right, we’d get blue flames on top of the tanks in the boat, but we always got as the motorboat went along it sucked the water down and the water would come down about 5 inches either side of the bank and there you would always get a white colour – a greyey/bluey smoke come up all along the canal as you went along.

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The waste itself used to smell awful. You used to get a sting in the back of the throat, so you made sure you didn’t breathe too much in. It was obviously very corrosive, so I used to wear clogs with rubber bottoms on when I was on the phos boats, so you didn’t slip, because it just corroded everything.  We were given no protective clothing, no gloves or anything like that. You weren’t told exactly what it was. Our job was to just carry it and take it. In those days there was no health and safety.”

An advert for the company

 There are many interesting facets of Paul’s story.

Firstly and without any doubt whatsoever, we now have irrefutable evidence that the trade of carrying this hazardous and highly toxic waste by canal continued after The Deposit of Poisonous Wastes Act of 1972. Rhodia and Albright and Wilson , their antecedent, had attempted to claim that this ceased in 1969 and switched to road tanker- FALSE.

Matty’s did Albright and Wilson’s dirty work for them. It is clear that Paul was not given any Health and safety advice by either company- in those days it may not have existed, but even so, Albright and Wilson certainly were checking the health of their own employees and measuring their dental records, and had been for many years. This was obviously for their own litigation reasons. Management were fully aware of the dangers of this substance and of its chronic effects. It is bizarre that this did not extend to their contractors who were taking a far greater risk than the AW employees in being exposed to the deadly cargo- especially carrying it by water in boats that were according to all accounts of a very poor standard.

It is clear that Paul had no protective equipment, unlike the flame retardant Proban overalls or even Harris tweeds that AW staff were given when handling phosphorus at the factory.

An 1980’s A&W safety video emphasising use of PPE.

The employees at Matty’s were very skilled, hardened to the elements, mostly, but unlike Paul as he told me, uneducated and could not read or write. This made them easy prey. From Paul’s contract it is clear that he was given no pension or sickness benefit. This is unthinkable today. Paul also told me that the story of Enoch Clewes was well known and true within the company, and also that one of his colleagues who carried the phosphorus waste for AW before him had serious health and breathing difficulties before his death.

The environmental risks and problems were also well known and the issues affecting the wider canal area also known. Some of this waste undoubtedly ended up in the canal and made it smell and look foul.

I would like to thank Paul for his time and effort in telling his story, and I believe that it is important that records like this are kept for future reference of our social history. Though the canal carrying trade may be missed, the working practices and environmental deficiencies of hauling this particular cargo from Oldbury will not be. The toxic waste at the tip however is still all there….

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The son of The Oldbury smell- Oh no The Tipton smell!

 

THIS TIME IT’S PURRRRRSONAL!

The Oldbury smell– Everyone knew the source, everyone detected the odour of cat piss. A local councillor even waved her withered bush in front of a committee as to the effects it had blighted on the neighbourhood. I have unearthed the story of this pussy pong in several previous posts.

 But we are not done yet it seems from this article.

The bad smell appears to have reached Tipton, (and quite ominously Dudley Port),  in this article from The Birmingham Daily Post of 29 July 1967. The familiar themes emerge about the MO of the offending olfactory menace- sleepless nights, making people feel ill, and elusive to track down. But was this in itself “the Oldbury smell” of old, or a new “Lion King” on the block?

OH YES WE DO!!!!!

Though the source is suspected by an unnamed councillor, there is less of the vigour to do something about it as was the case with the indefatigable Councillor Gunn. It had already been noted that the lagoon was causing a stink in 1958, and making nearby factory workers feel ill. I would strongly suspect this to be down to phosphine gas.

How was this  remedied, who knows, though I suspect money would have changed hands somewhere to look the other way?

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Another brickworks fall

Some might say that the Rattlechain Brickworks and the man who operated them were cursed. Even in the days before any health and safety legislation- (we know that Samuel Barnett had lost an arm at the nearby Stour Valley Brickworks), calamity appeared all around the chain. The 1899 bursting of the banks  and emptying of 7 miles of canal into the 100 yards deep marl pit is well documented.

Not so well known are the deaths of two men, who were working on heightening the brickworks stack in 1906.

This post deals with another serious accident between the two World Wars at the brickworks, and interestingly gives an account of when they were still operating.

Position of the former Rattlechain brickworks superimposed on the current lagoon site.

From The Birmingham Daily Gazette of 7th March 1930 we learn that A Tipton man- Fred Turner was given a £90 compensation payment after breaking his leg three years earlier whilst working on the face of the pit. By now Barnett himself was dead, but his sons had obviously taken over the business. One wonders if the delay in payment and the long layoff of poor Fred was due to the litigious nature of this company and The Barnett’s in attempting to avoid blame. A job or business with them was a risk not really worth taking.

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Taking liberties- Who picks up the mess?

When industries involving dangerous chemicals fold there is a very big problem. Who picks up the mess when these companies shut their doors for the final time and the workforce move on? I have seen it many times and stories about how these sites are left are chronicled by so called “urban explorers” who photograph what is left behind. One such example is the former “shitehaven” factory of Albright and Wilson. Chemicals and leaking drums were mixed with a sea of papers, some of them containing personal information about individuals previously employed there.

Such sites appear to be like something out of the film 28 days later, as though abandoned by a catastrophic event that has mothballed them. Such sites become the target of looters, scrap metal thieves and worse arsonists. The dangers that such places pose to local residents and the environment from  left behind hazardous and flammable chemicals are real.

One such place locally that I have stumbled on is the former Liberty Drawn Tubes (previously Phoenix Steel Tubes) in West Bromwich. The site closed production in November 2018, but prior to this Persimmon Homes had gained an interest in changing the use of the site for residential development. This was approved by Sandwell council last year.

DC/18/62186 | Proposed erection of 128 dwellings and associated works. | Land Adjacent And Rear Of 37 & Land Adjacent 100 Phoenix Street West Bromwich B70 0AS

I have profound difficulties with using these contaminated industrial so called “brownfield sites” for homes. The former Tividale sewage works next to rattlechain lagoon is another example of how a “crap site” became what is now Callaghan and Wilson drives- right next to a hazardous waste site that prospective purchasers were not adequately informed about by the house builder.

But Persimmon have yet to make any appearance on the site, and no bricks have even yet appeared. This post is about the story of the disgusting manner in which those at Liberty Drawn Tubes- principally their directors and those with financial leadership of this company have left the site. It is quite apparent, as will be revealed that there is currently zero security.

Bollocks!

Firstly the site location itself. The Balls Hill canal branch passes to the rear of the sprawling factory. This canal has effectively been long abandoned by the former British Waterways and now the Canal and Rivers Trust. The fate was effectively sealed by the crooked Black Country Development Corporation, who in their wisdom built the Black Country Spine Road ( a gypsy pitch hard shoulder) through it at swan village. The canal still goes under the road, but its connection to the Ridgeacre branch is now unnavigable, meaning that no boats can ever go down there.

It is heavily silted and full of decades worth of  industrial pollution- principally from Robinson Brothers and their stinking factory located at its entrance near the 8 locks.

Unfortunately it appears that with the closure of the factory, someone used the opportunity to put pallets across the silt to gain access into the abandoned site. It is quite visible from the towpath that the thieves have been helping themselves to what was left behind- and of greater concern , have  been removing drums of toxic and hazardous liquids which have found their way into the canal. It is quite clear that tanks and barrels and potential vats of chemicals remain on site, which were not decommissioned by the abandonment. This is of course the problem- but whose problem is it to deal with?

I contacted the Environment agency who basically said if there was no pollution then its not us .GOV. So I then contacted Sandwell council, who of course in their wisdom have granted Persimmon planning permission. I’m not sure if a single planning officer has ever set foot on this site, or certainly any councillor who approved the application- but what a great place to live eh? I also contacted The Canal and Rivers Trust.

Persimmon’s “environmental consultants” (georisk) record what actually is on site in their site walkover in the application on behalf of Persimmon Homes, but this is where I have the profound difficulty. If both they and Persimmon are aware of the risk, and Sandwell council have approved an application knowing about this risk then why have all of them taken no interest in removing it, prior to said application being made? Here are selected extracts from the Georisk appraisal of the then  site conditions- which are now of course elevated due to the trespass and pollutant linkages which their report does not address.

 

Of course the house building lobbyists and their political shills claim that reusing such sites will get them cleaned up- well does this mean that they can be deliberately left like this, and are they being for this purpose? Why are house builders even allowed to submit planning applications and have them granted BEFORE they have cleared up the site, and not left it unsecured as is the case here? All three of these agents , house builder, environmental consultant and planning authority are complicit in knowing the dangers to members of the public, and of course the directors of Liberty Drawn Tubes for leaving behind such a fucking disgusting mess.

It was quite clear speaking to the perplexed guy on the phone at SMBC , that there were no adequate forms to record the type of complaint that I was making- but it has I’m told been recorded by their environmental health team. BUT

  • THIS IS A SERIOUS ARSON RISK- INVOLVING DANGEROUS CHEMICALS THAT COULD BE RELEASED TO AFFECT RESIDENTS WHO LIVE ACROSS THE ROAD.
  • IT IS A RISK TO CONTROLLED WATERS AND THE CANAL AND WILDLIFE.
  • THERE IS ASBESTOS ROOFING AND OIL TANKS THERE.
  • THERE IS A DANGER TO TRESPASSERS ON THE SITE.

The EA will act only if there is a pollution issue. The fire brigade will only come if there is a fire which may involve the abandoned chemicals that are now scattered everywhere across the site and beyond. BUT WHAT ARE THEY ALL WAITING FOR? Is the risk less important than an actual event that they are all  prepared for within their remits but will not act to prevent it from happening?

It appears that some urban explorers have entered the site and posted a youtube video, which even further underlines the point that I am making here. I don’t care about fucking boreholes and percussion tests to determine contaminated soils and if this can be remediated and sticking 600 cm of top soil over it to cover it up- Such desk studies by bookish theorics are worthless. The main issue is the current state of the place and the lack of security. But I just ask the question again- WHO PICKS UP THE MESS OF LIBERTY DRAWN TUBES BEFORE THE FIRST FOUNDATIONS FOR HOUSES ARE SUNK?

 

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Stranger than fiction

 

They say that life is stranger than fiction. A couple of observations just lately have left me with tears of laughter strolling down my cheeks.

I have outlined the full list of planning applications for the vile Trinity street chemical factory- source of all the associated toxic waste including the white phosphorus that poisoned birds at Rattlechain lagoon extensively on this website. The latest in this series had escaped me up until recently with the demolition consent granted of three buildings from the Albright and Wilson era- namely the Accomet store (described in HS21 as “a finished product of highly sheared silicon in chromic solution used in the metal finishing industry”) , phosphorus chlorides plant and the EO store. (phosphorus trichoride being a chemical weapons pre cursor.)

PD_18_01052-GRANT_DEMOLITION_CONSENT-969894

As part of the documents submitted, Solvay wrote to householders advising them of the scheme, and Mr Mike Jones is listed as “project manager- THE POSEIDON PROJECT”

DER, DER ,DER…….. Is this a top secret codenamed operation to develop trident in Oldbury?! 😆 Whatever could this project be in connection to this site and the associations with a macho God of the seas? I was even tempted to ask The tramp phosphorus living at Rattlechain lagoon if he knew anything, but as ever he has long standing grievances against the site operators and had not been given what he had requested.

But rather than alluding to Greek mythology , it only reminds me of that great disaster movie of the 1970’s- The Poseidon adventure.

Of course- Albright and Wilson are famous for polluting the seas- The Irish sea from their Shitehaven factory, and the Newfoundland Long harbour fiasco where they killed off thousands of fish with white phosphorus contamination.

In the movie the ship is hit by a tsunami creating disaster for all on board as “hell upside down” is created. 😆 There are explosions, fires, and general death and mayhem- sounds much like Trinity Street and a rather apt name for any project connected to the site.  😆

DISASTER AT PO BOX 80!

I have previously considered the lagoon being a brilliant setting for a film location in this post.

The other stranger than fiction moment occurred when I discovered that rattlechain lagoon itself has become the unlikely setting to feature in a murder mystery serial killer novel entitled “Fatal Promise” by Angela Marsons. 😆 

Here’s the direct passage from the novel in chapter 41.

I just can’t think where the local author’s inspiration came from for its inclusion in the book, but I’ll have to get a copy and review it. 😆

I hope Poseidon isn’t coming to rattlechain anytime soon. There’s been enough disaster down there when Albright and Wilson turned up with chemicals and started dumping them. Perhaps the song used in the film is befitting for that of Oldbury, on the morning after their dirty polluting factory finally shuts its bow doors for the last time.

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