The Walsall Smell- new glamping theme park opening soon*

*Well, only the last part of the title in this post is a little April 1st smelly.

So many of our urban areas in The Industrial West Midlands have at one time or another been hit with quite appalling air quality issues , yet it seems that these are almost played down by the authorities who attempt to claim that there are no health risks associated with them. I have previously unearthed a great deal of information about The Oldbury smell- caused by the stench mongers of Oldbury- Albright and Wilson, and even the offspring of this- The Tipton smell. But now our Northern cousins are also not immune from an olfactory menace sweeping across the firmament like an egg fart splurge gun.


Over the course of recent months there appears to be a strange De Ja Vu or (poo) occurring in the area of Walsall Wood and Shelfield. Leigh Land Reclamation Limited- an offshoot of the vile polluting Leigh Interests had gazumped the WMBC many years ago in  buying new tips in the Walsall area. They ran them for profit and held the local authority over a barrel in terms of waste disposal.

What is clear is that a nasty smell has arisen from the depths of the “new” Highfields Tip , run originally by Cory environmental, but now the altered name of “Enovert”.

There appears to be a heated anger from local residents about this statutory nuisance, but the official response by the council appears to be very poor indeed. In fact if you read some of the articles concerning Leigh back in the day when they were causing major issues, they do appear to be very similar guarded statements from the leadership of the local authority.

The residents , as with those from CAATW were concerned about the hidden health impacts that such a site was having upon those who lived in the area. They are struggling to find good information to this end, but find themselves in a political field where those in power jockey for the moral high ground, whilst also apparently not wanting to openly criticise a disgusting polluting business.

I’ve been past this site many times, and it bloody stinks, there are no two ways about that.

Councillor Bird, the current leader of the council, (I lose count), has been around for many years, and would remember the Leigh fiasco well, and it should be stated that his council officers appeared impotent to take action on at that time. But merely mouthed statements such as the ones attributed to him in a recent Express and Star article, where he claims that unnamed pollution control officers have taken samples and declared that there is  “no significant risk” from this tip site is woeful.

But gone are the days where official line is believed, and we now live in the internet age and that of FOI, so I put in a request to WMBC to illicit these test results so that we can see exactly what scrutiny these officers have made of this appalling olfactory trespasser. WMBC responded:

“Real time air quality monitoring was carried out using a Biogas GA5000  portable gas analyser manufactured by Geotechnical Instruments Ltd.  The  analyser calibrated in accordance with manufacturers’ instructions measures oxygen, carbon dioxide, methane and hydrogen sulphide.  The purpose of the monitoring exercise carried out this year was to establish whether methane and/or hydrogen sulphide could be detected downwind of
Highfields Landfill site when malodour was detected.  Monitoring was carried out January 30th on Walsall Road, and January 31st , February 3rd  and 5th February on Boatmans Lane. No recordings were made, only officer notes that neither methane or hydrogen sulphide was detected. 

No soil or water sampling was carried out, only real time air quality monitoring.

No map was made at the time of the monitoring exercise.”

This really isn’t very much in the way of detail is it to make such a claim of “no significant risk” is it? There may not be a continuous waft of the substances tested for in these locations, and why should the smell and gases involved obey roadside verges? What about tests directly at source on the site itself? Where is the data for this?

One should be vary wary of just accepting information given down by Walsall council without seriously scrutinising the information. Firstly their Hazardous Waste Unit were an incompetent joke from the top down, and when it was disbanded in 1996 when The Environment Agency was created, many of them unfortunately just got jobs within the new quango, or to environmental health teams within other local authorities.

A recent issue involving WMBC and “contaminated land” is a case in point. An area of the former Willenhall gas works , (a former “brownfield site”) that had seen houses built upon it , the Stonegate housing estate, had been declared as “contaminated land” by the local authority. This is a prime example of the stupidity of building on brownfield land that Mayor Street (Tory Tonka) and his friend Mr Bird (who occupies a position on the undemocratic West Midlands Combined authority dealing in housing) are so keen on doing these days.

After attempting to pursue those who built the houses through legal action to remediate the site, this public enquiry decision by the planning inspectorate  went against the council, who would then have been forced to pay for remediation themselves.

I put in an FOI request a while ago to the council about this to obtain the ruling and statements made, but I was just referred to a link on the council website. 

The main concern of the council was about soil derived dusts from the carcinogenic benzo (a) pyrene, and was expressed as thus in the case for the remediation notice served on the former housing developer company in that there was “possibility of significant harm arising” to receptors.

WMBC then conducted a new set of tests with a new environmental consultancy, LQM, incredibly then claiming that the land was NOT contaminated after all! Well how bloody amazing is that when they were faced with having to pay millions out themselves instead of someone else?

The inspector’s ruling on Walsall and their original consultants AECOM was rather scathing as to how they served the notice, which was quashed.

The former 1st results and the planning inspectorate ruling have now all disappeared off the council website, to be replaced with only the new consultancy results. It also appears that much of the information that had previously been accessible on contaminated land – especially the former historic waste site licences on the public register have now also gone (which I wrote about concerning doomwatch sites).

This is what you now get. So why would this have happened I wonder? It seems to me that certain people in this council are rather frit (or perhaps the term “bricking it” would be more apt), about old information coming to light to scupper their plans, and potentially expose the shit monitoring of old sites by their former useless hazardous waste unit, which may leave them as an authority liable for legal action when subsequent knowledge of the failures come to light?

But here are the report and the Secretary of States decision letter  below.  😆

Appeal Report

Secretary of States Decision Letter Final

Unfortunately when you read the new report in conjunction with the so called “guidance” issued by the Government departments, we are talking semantic wordplay as to what constitutes real risk and “significant possibility of significant harm”.

1339-2 Non Technical Summary of Inspection of Stonegate and Trent Park estates

The work undertaken by LQM concluded that there are greater than background concentrations of contaminants at the Site associated with historical industrial activities including waste disposal from the gasworks.  However, LQM’s site investigation and subsequent assessment of the combined results has found the concentrations of contaminants in the soils at the Site do not represent an unacceptable risk to human health when considered in light of the Statutory Guidance. This means the land should not be considered ‘Contaminated Land’ under Part 2A of the Environmental Protection Act 1990. “

I would say that this statutory guidance is written by civil servants to serve themselves, who like their paymasters want to promote the reckless brownfield building agenda, but who will ever trace these scumbags 50 years down the line when human health risks manifest themselves? Some of them will no doubt leave their jobs to set up their own environmental consultancies, where an on tap business of writing off land plastered with toxic crap and building houses on top of this can be secured through their previous shite “guidance”.

In terms of the Walsall smell,there appears to be little reassurance in that those in power are unable to answer about where and how this smell has suddenly arisen to such appalling public alarm.

There’s an interesting background document below when Walsall council were debating about the use of the former Highfields quarry back in 2006.

highfields south landfill

From this a rather telling statement.

Proposed development  and site details

Highfields South Quarry is an active clay quarry covering 12 hectares of land located south of the A461 Lichfield Road, approximately 400 metres north of Shelfield. The site is outlined on the attached plan. The surrounding uses are mixed with residential property to the west and open land to the north. Immediately to the north east is the Barons Court Hotel. To the south is the former landfill site owned by Veolia Environmental Services (formerly Onyx UK Ltd).  In the wider area there are residential properties close by on Queen Street, Walsall Wood. The existing operational Vigo Utopia Landfill site lies to the east beyond Boatmans Lane.” 

and most notably

Odour concerns arising from some of the gas management and dispersion modelling issues, which influence assessment of the potential for odour to impact upon local amenity, may be capable of resolution with the applicants. However matters relating to day to day working practice remain an area of some concern.  “Management Procedure” utilised to direct on site activity associated with the handling of wastes normally fall to be regulated by the Environment Agency. The applicant has indicated that they are willing to accept conditions requiring them to agree odour and fly control procedures with the Planning Authority and to meet Walsall Council representatives on a regular basis to review the effectiveness of such procedures. This course of action would enable the authority to retain some measure of control over situations likely to create “nuisance” to local residents.

There have been some instances when odour from “fresh waste” has been detectable outside the site boundary at Vigo – Utopia although domestic waste (directly from collection rounds) is not included in the list of waste types allowed for direct delivery to the site. It is reasonable to take the view that a similar situation may arise at Highfields South although sensitive land uses are not in such close proximity to the site boundary.

The applicant has provided a detailed description of the engineering design of the land form which adds weight to the claims by the applicant that improved levels of control of odour from landfill gas can be achieved when compared to the situation at Vigo – Utopia.    Odours will remain to be controlled by speedy laying of adequate cover onto the waste throughout the working day. In view of this there will inevitably be occasions when odour will be detectable outside the site boundary.

In general, subject to Enviros advising that the additional information provided by MJCA has addressed their concerns, the proposals and controls put forward by the applicant coupled with the offer to accept conditions allowing the effectiveness of these to be reviewed and modified as appropriate provide reasonable assurance that activities can be managed so as to minimise impact upon the local amenity and environment.”

So WTF went wrong?  😳 

Another interesting document, again from Walsall council themselves, is an air quality assessment made in the borough around the same period, when the site was still being used as a quarry. Pages 8-15 refer.

2.3.3 This monitoring program has been conducted at a position (Highfields farm) relevant to public exposure where consideration has been given to the siting of the sampling location in relation to Highfields South mineral extraction site. This site represents a location where exposure to dust emissions are likely to be relatively high (downwind from the source based upon the assumption that the prevailing winds having a southerly component). Figure 1 identifies the location of the monitoring station in relation to the mineral extraction site.”


The question of particulate matter PM10’S is assessed at this time, but what assessments have been made SINCE the site became a tip, and in light of the movements of material on the site- all generating significant amounts of particulate matter and soil derived dusts?

If I were a local resident living near to this site, I would be asking serious questions about the real health impacts associated with PM10’s in this area, as well as the odours, as it appears that the latest council monitoring does not appear to address this issue at all. 

And if you think that Public Health England (formerly The Health Protection Agency) (sic) are in any way competent at giving advice on whether “well managed” landfill sites pose no risk to health, then consider how they were paid by Rhodia to produce a report of such breath taking crap, that they failed to monitor many chemicals of concern at Rattlechain lagoon in their joke “human health risk assessment”- which also left out significant historical facts that were not what their client wanted the public to know about.

But just to throw into the mix, I think it relevant to point out the digging that has been going on next to the two former abysmally ran and multiple licence breaching Leigh Interests sites in this area in recent times. Firstly the cavernous border with this tip, including the diverted Vigo brook, and the filled in fraudulent “sealosafe” Empire/Butterley holes is noted.

A large  created void between the Empire and Butterley holes and the Enovert tip- with a load of spare tyres

The other development is that of the “well of souls”  adjacent to the former Mitco lagoon , off Coppice Lane, and is it just a coincidence that they have been carrying out major pumping operations at both sites at the same time? What exactly is going on here?

If you look at a map of this area, these two points run in a roughly straight line, so just join the dots.


The former Mitco lagoon site overlay, red dot= position of borehole, and circle indicates where picture was taken below from the former tram line on Coppice Lane.


pumping what out?

I say it’s “relevant” because another Walsall council document,  😆 appears to make a similar comment. Their submission for site allocation mineral deposits in the area gives some interesting background info on many of these vile brickwork hole sites, subsequently infilled by scumbag operators. This document was written in only January of last year 2019. 


Pages 43-50 refer to the Highfields South site, and contains some useful planning history info. But just  look what they tell us here!

“There are potential risks from migration of contaminants from the adjacent former Empire/ Butterley landfill site were evaluated before the restoration programme was approved and the measures proposed to manage the risks are considered satisfactory, subject to ongoing monitoring.”

But do we get any information about monitoring of this particular issue from the EA or Walsall council themselves in terms of contaminants and health risks associated with the hazardous wastes that were infilled into here using the fraudulent “sealosafe” process overseen by Walsall council’s USELESS hazardous waste unit? Er… no we do not. They instead focus solely on the Enovert site itself.

A recent FOI request to Walsall council reveals the following about actual monitoring of the Leigh sites, and the fact that their officers have undertaken no monitoring of these contaminated sites since the creation of the agency in 1996.

“Walsall Council holds no records of Deep Mine Waste Disposal monitoring
post 1995. (see below) This enquiry is best referred to the Environment
Agency who are the regulatory authority for waste disposal matters

Liquid wastes, predominantly hydrocarbons were disposed of via a borehole
situated at the Leigh Environmental treatment works at Stubbers Green.
This borehole placed wastes into the disused coal workings in the local
area. The level of liquid in this borehole was monitored and recorded by
the site operators and results were reviewed by the West Midlands
Hazardous Waste, later absorbed into the Environment Agency in 1995.

This unit undertook sampling of the groundwater underlying the area at
boreholes known as ‘Copy Hall’  (located off Hall Lane), Dumblederry Lane,
The Weinerberger Brick Works (Stubbers Green Road) and the Mitco Site (off
Coppice Lane).

The Environment Agency may hold records of this work. Walsall MBC may have
retained some records however the location of these is unclear and it is
possible they are archived off site. The current public health crisis
prevents access to some locations and paper records in our building.

We are however able to say with some confidence that no monitoring has
been undertaken by Walsall Council following the setting up of the
Environment Agency and transfer of regulatory powers in relation to waste
disposal and water quality to them.”

And here’s another gem from the Walsall mineral sites document , which probably suggests why WMBC are so keen to ensure the profitability of this site.

Walsall Wood – the shit tip of the Midlands- just like all those years ago when Leigh Interests used the same excuse.

“This site is currently Walsall’s only ‘open gate’ landfill site, which is accessible to users seeking to dispose of inert and non-hazardous waste from other parts of the West Midlands, such as adjoining parts of the Black Country, Birmingham and Staffordshire. Information from the Environment Agency Waste Data Interrogator shows that the site is accepting waste from other parts of the West Midlands, although a high proportion of the waste received is not coded to a specific authority area.”

Enovert, like Leigh before them, appear to want to ingratiate themselves to people in the area, to mitigate their dire statutory nuisance with stunts such as this.

new air conditioning- LOL- they will bloody need it!

Their permit at the site, which can be read HERE, contains some detail on odour emissions.

What are these “levels” and who set them, and how were they set?

The EA have also introduced a handy “fartometer” so that people making complaints can give them a score.

From what I have seen and has been announced, Enovert are now applying a geotextile membrane to their tip area visible from Walsall Road- and this was confirmed in a council statement on the website, but this is surely just a sticking plaster, as the London based trumpers continue to pump their obnoxious gas. They apparently have permission to do what they are doing at this site till at least 2025.

In these troubled times when people are being forcibly confined to barracks, except for a bit of in- out daily exercise, perhaps the only solution for fresh air is to don your trusty SM-74 when venturing into the vicinity of this repugnant Enovert receptacle.



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The Leigh Environment-HELL files #5- The sloppy leftovers

“The Empire Strikes back”

The blighted Leigh Landscape, and the areas they once occupied on a current map of the area.

A summary PDF of the reign of terror that Leigh Interests and associated companies inflicted on the area of Walsall Wood and Shelfield can be read below. N.B These are referenced primary sources.

Activities of leigh Interests and associated companies

Leigh Environmental Limited changed its name to “Onyx Leigh Environmental Limited” on  15th January 1988. This new Onyx brand was part of a much larger French operation. It does appear however that the name lived on in court papers as an article from 14th January 2000 shows. 

We already know that this company were a serial waste polluter and a statutory nuisance in the area of operations in Walsall. But this article casts doubt on their protocols and one can also wonder if the falsification of records was a one off or part of a much larger web.

“Leigh Environmental pleaded guilty to seven charges of breaching its licence conditions after it was found to have sent false information to the Agency about leachate levels at a landfill site at Coalmoor near Horsehay, Telford and about difficult waste at a landfill site at Ling Hall near Warwick.
The investigation showed that the figures had been falsified by a single employee. In all, 252 out of 517 reports of levels of difficult wastes passed to the Agency had been falsified.”

The article states that the company had been fined four times since 1991 for breaches of licence conditions and regulations, but the latest incident where they were fined £100,000 showed they were not above outright fraud.

The difficult wastes referred to being mixed with other wastes were of course happening throughout the regime in Walsall. Unfortunately this form of self monitoring is one which can only lead to fraud of this type and is an abject failure of all environmental laws.

“After sentencing, Steve Morley, the Environment Agency’s Area Manager for the Upper Severn Area, said: “This incident was extremely serious, especially considering Leigh Environmental Limited’s poor environmental record in the West Midlands.
“If the amounts of difficult wastes had been continued to be dumped and figures falsified, there was a risk of environmental damage occurring,” said Morley. “

Of course I would point out from my dealings with him, that Morley himself was unable to see the environmental damage caused by the dumping of white phosphorus and its systemic poisoning of wildfowl at Rattlechain lagoon at around this exact same time.  🙄

I just wonder how many figures had been falsified in Walsall throughout the WMCC and the Hazardous Waste Unit’s regulation?

A side chain to the demise of the Leigh name is that three of its directors set up a new entity called “Park Environmental Limited”. One of this company’s prime contracts at one point was delivering the toxic waste for Rhodia to Rattlechain lagoon that was poisoning and killing birds which landed on there, just as one of the big players in the early Leigh company from Alfred Matty’s had been doing many years earlier . What a wonderful bunch they all were.

In 2005 the Veolia name was changed again  to Veolia Environmental Services. The new branded logo is visible on what remains of the Empire Works Site. 

I don’t live in this area, and so have no axe to grind one way or another in terms of the effect of the landscape that remains behind, but I do have eyes and an opinion based on similar dealings with the likes of Rhodia and the pure bullshit bureaucracy of many agencies who frequently pass the buck when it comes to looking at the onerous impact that industrial concerns have on the environment. Too often they look the other way and defer your complaints and concerns to someone else. The phrase “It’s the responsibility of…..” appears to be the first thing that civil servants and political actors learn to say when taking up their useless roles.

The waste regulation of  sites controlled by Leigh Interests and associates was abysmal and a failure by the West Midlands County Council and then Walsall council’s hazardous waste unit. It is clear that this weakness was exploited throughout these years by the management and directors of this company. The likes of Malcolm Wood offered problem/solution scenarios , all tailored around benefitting his company’s continued operations and shareholder profits.

Having taken a walk through the area, the Empire works today controlled by Veolia from the canal and public right of way reveals a vacuous vessel of containers of varying hazard in numbered bays. The smell is one of cleaning solutions which perhaps gives false perspective about the dangers arising from storing bulk loads in one place.

A PR board records the Veolia statistics like many other corporate driven machines, and which also probably equates to senior managers getting bonuses for keeping these down. The last RIDDOR incident according to the day I visited had happened over 2 and a half years ago, but accidents reported at two per month. Who of course judges these is open to question.

The gates off Stubbers Green Road where CAATW blockaded the entry of tankers into the works are now wide open and unguarded, but clues remain as to what had gone on before all those years ago.


The following weighbridge ticket was found discarded and blowing in the wind on the public pathway between the Atlas brickworks marlhole and the plant. It reveals that Veolia retain the original WMCC licences on these SL51,SL231 AND SL323, which refer to the renumbered five number permits above and still refer to it as “The Polymeric treatments plant”:mrgreen:

Doesn’t appear to have even been filled in?

The drums refer to “EWC 09 99 99” (European Waste catalogue). I cannot for the life of me find this classification, and am wondering if it has been filled in incorrectly. 09 relates to “wastes from the photographic industry” , and these are included within the permit)- but the other numbers make no sense at all.

I found another ticket more recently, and again the same reference is made to this consignment of drums. One also wonders given that the three triplicate colour coded sheets were blowing about on the path as to the adequacy of records being kept regards where this waste is originating from? What is the point of even generating such discarded and incomplete records?

An FOI request to The Environment agency revealed significant information about the varying permits now regulating the former Leigh site, and some of the older superseded ones. There is no question that these offer far more controls and safeguards than the pathetic rubbish drawn up by the likes of Ken Harvey from the WMCC. I am not going to go into a full review of these on this page, but the request puts them into the public domain where previously they were absent, and it may give some local residents interest as to what lies in their backyard today.

They stated that “Prior to the Waste Management Licensing Regulations 1994, a permit holder could simply hand their permit back to the regulating authority, there was
no requirement to make an application to surrender the permit….SL 323 was never surrendered, Permit XP 3037SE supersedes parts of SL 323.

This permit issued on  24/11/2006 consists of 52 pages and includes the following summary of historic events, though is very patchy about the dismal failures that had taken place within this time frame. Unfortunately this is one of the big cons of the Environment Agency and their records telling a very diluted story- the one which benefits the business polluter. The site has operated under waste management licences since the 1970’s.”that’s just leaving a little bit of information out FFS!

Confirmation about the three former licences are also mentioned.

A list of permitted waste types, quantities and conditions can be read within the permit.

8 modifications to this permit, also supplied by the agency in the request were made on









and can be read at the links.

Within these documents it is apparent that some of this waste is “treated” to be discharged to sewer. This appears to be the enormous “Iraqi supergun” ,(for want of a better phrase) black pipe that runs out of the site.

Of course the buried historic information of Leigh’s legacy is very difficult to find, which is one of the reasons why I have researched the history to put it in the public domain. I have already been contacted by people living in the area who were unfamiliar with the Leigh Story and what was filled into the voids beneath their homes many years ago. The “time bomb for the future” spoken of by Councillor Barton and foretold by others before him is still very real, but one which I fear is and will repeat itself in the years that lie ahead.

What really became of The Mitco lagoon and it’s borehole? Image from Sophie James.

It does appear that local environmental issues have again come to the fore with an industrial nuisance being caused by the Enovert Highfields Road landfill- the site being directly adjacent to The Empire works site. Once again smells and fears about health have been raised with Walsall council and The Environment Agency by local residents , but it does appear that history is repeating itself with whimsical statements from the powers that be and a buck passing exercise just like all those years ago with Leigh. 

The Enovert site is located North of the filled sealosafe crap holes, with the Beddows and Barnett hole still active to the south.

The blight on the landscape that this company caused gives rise to another ominous vessel in the shape of the still active/former Atlas brickworks Marlhole, now Sandown, formerly run in partnership with Beddow by the Barnett family of Samuel Barnett’s Rattlechain fame.

Who knows how long this site will be actively digging for brickmaking materials,  but no doubt it is already being eyed with relish as a potential target for industrial tippers of the future, and Walsall council themselves. 

Someday someone with a brain cell will realise that filling in holes with human rubbish and hazardous waste is a terrible idea. Unfortunately, I fear that day is a long way off with business industrial polluters still rampant, and politicians who put their interests first ahead of residential dwellers.

It starts with brickmaking, and ends with shit tipping

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The Leigh Environment-HELL files#4 Community Action Against Toxic Waste

This is the last but one part of the Leigh Environment-HELL story files, and the one which is the most important, as it involves the community who experienced this outside industrial polluter and had to put up with all of the issues that went with it.

It is perhaps important to place this in context with the political landscape of the area in which Leigh Environmental and their subsidiaries arrived. The area of Aldridge/Brownhills is in a Parliamentary political seat that had for many years been a marginal constituency. Contrast the more industrial typically labour voting area of Brownhills with the leafier Tory Aldridge and it makes for interesting punditry. The local council ward of Rushall/Shelfield where the Empire works were and still are situated still change hands on a regular basis between the two main parties. Though this should not be a major consideration in opposing such polluting sites, it was inevitably going to provide a platform for some to use the issue for their own political purposes when looking for votes. This does not appear to have been the agenda however in the early days of the campaign, and “COMMUNITY ACTION AGAINST TOXIC WASTE” (CAATW) ,  was perhaps a fine example of 80’s/90’s environmental activism  in an era when big business attempted to pull the wool over people’s eyes with their pr brand of “health and safety.”

From Express and Star archive, Leigh protestors attempt to stop lorries delivering waste to the Stubbers Green site.

As has already been seen, both political and public opposition to Leigh’s “West Mid” project, the use of the Mitco lagoon and the dodgy  “sealosafe” process was a hot local issue. As Leigh continued to flout licence conditions and import more hazardous waste streams into the borough, so awareness of this intensified with direct action demonstrations outside the gates of the company, in an attempt to turn back lorries bringing the hazardous waste onto the site. It is clear that the issue was only brought to the fore AFTER the campaign had written to The Queen, and the letter then being forwarded back to a shame faced Walsall council, (see placard far right in top picture above),  who frequently talked tough but were shown to be impotent in action. Many news articles tell the campaigner’s story in the first four pivotal years, and I set these out chronologically below.


It is revealed in The Sandwell Evening Mail 14th January 1988 that a 1500 name petition had been handed in to Walsall Council in respect of the Empire works site. What is quite clear about this, and Walsall council’s sudden apparent interest (baring in mind they had been granting Leigh favours for years), was that it had been originally sent with a letter addressed to The Queen.  

From here, via the Department of Environment, and back to the local authority,  it obviously embarrassed Walsall council into taking action. This was undoubtedly a shrewd move on behalf of the protestors who has suffered years of problems expressed as;

“It causes vomiting, headaches, sore throats, stomach upsets, and can trigger off attacks in people who suffer from asthma.”

This doesn’t appear to be some random hypochondria, given that the matter was raised at The British Medical Association conference by Walsall doctors due to the number of people they had seen complaining of the same symptoms in proximity to a plant involved in toxic waste disposal.

The claims made by Edward Wilkinson of Leigh should ring alarm bells in that he did not welcome external independent consultants. The claim about the company being “environmentalists” in light of their previous convictions and failings are absolutely laughable.

Some months later the same paper  Tuesday 31 May 1988 reported that Walsall were considering taking action against the environmental polluter’s subsidiary Leigh Land Reclamation Limited– who had outbid them to control the landfilling operation near Brownhills- (Licence SL266) . A report by the council had been compiled which indicated failures under The Control of Pollution Act with uncovered rubbish being found.

Matters in the area as well as throughout the country involving the company came under even more intense scrutiny, including a Parliamentary debate, with the story of the Karin B ship. The story of this toxic cargo originating in Italy on a West German ghost ship can be read in excellent summary in this article. The link with Leigh Environmental is that they saw a payday from this which horrified both the community of Shelfield as well as the local councillors.

Having been turned away from many European countries under naval escort, the idea that it should find its way into the landlocked borough of Walsall in West Midlands – “the dustbin of the world” was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The early September Sandwell Evening Mail articles highlight how tensions were ramped up in opposition to the idea of Leigh Environmental being able to import this foreign toxic shit.

From 1st September 1988 , it is revealed that many people were about to protest outside the Walsall Council House. The council were talking of obtaining a High Court injunction against the firm’s proposals to import the waste.

The comments made by Leigh director, Wilko , are typical of the time, when people who lived in the area were somehow “insulting” the people who worked for this dire failing polluting company. Wilkinson himself lived nowhere near Walsall, in fact not even in The West Midlands County. 

100 local people, including children had protested outside the main gates at his company’s site with a banner stating “This company’s profits are another countries poison”. 

In the following days paper, we get a report on the meeting, which tells us that 200 people attended the event. Jeoff Kirkham of Walsall council stated that 94% of The West Midlands’ imported waste was being taken to Walsall, and in the first half of 1988, this had amounted to  26,100 tonnes of waste, the bulk of which was also the borough’s problem. 

No more waste thanks “brig”. Fuck right off!

On 3rd September, another article shows that The MP’s and MEP’s in the area had sized up the Midland’s waste issue. It also confirms the rubbish claimed about Leigh being a “reputable company” ,with the report stating that they were due in court on multiple charges of dumping waste illegally at the landfill site off Birch Coppice, as well as illegal depositing at the Stubbers Green site. 

On  30 September 1988 , Walsall council announced their intentions to prosecute Leigh on breaches of its licence conditions. The report of open containers of cyanide being stored at The Polymeric Treatments plant, with several licence breaches for this site, (I assume licence SL51). Leigh Land Reclamation- of the Birch Coppice site, were also found in breach of that licence (SL266).


On 1st October, the paper also told how protestors from CAATW were to march against Leigh, from the site to Walsall Town Centre, with thousands of leaflets having been delivered by campaigners across the area. The claims made again by Wilkinson, again disrespect those taking part- NB over 4,000 people had signed the petition, and I’m sure that most of those had not been persuaded to do so for “political ” reasons.

Two days later, the campaign is shown to have resulted in calls to kick Leigh Environmental out of Walsall, and a plea for a referendum on the issue.

On 25th October  another rally story noted how pictures had been taken by campaigners of PCB’s being stored in poor conditions in barrels at the site. These were of concern because of the infamous Seveso incident in Italy where dioxin had been released into a residential area. With the dire record of Leigh Environmental pollution, it is perhaps no underestimation of the concern generated that these carcinogenic materials were being haphazardly stored so close to local homes. 


The Sandwell Evening Mail of 8th March 1989 revealed that this company and their activities were at the centre of a report by The Commons environment select committee investigation  into toxic waste disposal.

The arrogant comments of Malcolm Wood were noted.

The comments concerning The former West Midlands county council’s role in managing this farce are I am afraid quite laughable. They had been an inept regulator from day one, but this was unfortunately via central Government, and the toothless and careless Nicholas Ridley , a continued licence to keep on dumping.

Another Mail of 14th March 1989 showed that the protests in the town had not died out.

In June, a symbolic protest outside the gates of the company included survivors of the Bhopal disaster from India.

This coincided with Leigh announcing large profits- from their “treatment” of toxic waste, which was hardly being passed on to the local community.

From Express and Star Archive. “Union Carbide Bhopal survivors protest at the plant. Chander Singh Ningule, Satinath Sarangi, Sunil Kumar Rajput and Bilkis Bano.”

It was also revealed in this month that one of the regulators “top” inspectors of The Hazardous Waste Unit, David O’Connor had jumped ship and joined this industrial polluter as “technical manager”,  that he had supposedly been tasked with scrutinising over many years.

This of course did and should have rung alarm bells in what skills or information Leigh, a company whom this man had presumably been responsible for prosecuting for the authority in recent times, and perhaps many other live investigations that they had yet to, were trying to gain from him in giving him a job. The ability of civil servants being able to jump into the private sector such as this remains a disgrace to this day, and should not be allowed under law. It also perhaps made local residents untrusting of Walsall council, and particularly individuals who were at the forefront of making complaints against this company concerned about their personal information- at a time when the Data Protection Act was still fairly new.

It does however, given that O’Connor took part in a ludicrous photo opportunity for Albright and Wilson’s “efficiently managed” site at rattlechain ,(which he was also responsible for failing to effectively monitor over many years), perhaps shows that the WMHW Unit were not exactly losing anyone of great value in terms of “technical” acumen. Note for example in that picture, his failure to wear a single piece of PPE on the hazardous waste site!

Good riddance!

From 31st August, The Evening Mail reported on the 1st anniversary of protests outside the gates of Leigh. These were taking place twice a week, and it is clear that they were having a watchdog presence on the company, which far exceeded anything that the local authority were doing.



On 20th June of 1990 , it was revealed that a large demonstration was to take place outside the site , with groups from across the country taking part in “a national day of action”.  The article also mentions Leigh’s site in Peartree Lane Dudley which had also by now attracted major local opposition, not least the idea of importing radioactive waste into the borough! 

Three days later, a follow up story showed that CAATW had won the support of Friends of The Earth and Greenpeace, when they were still creditable organisations not obsessed solely with the “climate change” death cult of today. 

By the time that the second anniversary of protests at the Stubbers Green site came around in August of that year, as recorded in the Express and Star article below, the banners record the investigative failings into “sealosafe” buried beneath the houses, which had shown Leigh to be a disreputable waste disposal company. “Green in name, but not in nature” was a fantastic catch line.

In September , a delegation of campaigners, led by an MEP, were to take a dossier of information to Europe, involving complaints; and specifically mentioned is the Harwell report into the failures of sealosafe and Leigh to manage their site properly. 


This was I am afraid a big red herring in the campaign, as the EU may have appeared to be an outlet to press for reform, but it was and still remains a vessel infested with chemical industry lobbyists and sheisters for their allied waste disposal industry lackies. It was the same EU that had failed with regulation in Sevesco, places such as Rattlechain lagoon (which as previously mentioned, its inspectors thought of as “efficient”), and of course had failed to monitor what EU member Italy had been doing in launching a ship laden with hazardous waste around the world that no one- except the scummy Walsall Wood polluters, wanted.

One should question the report written by Walsall Council , as mentioned by Leigh in the article.

On 16th October , The Evening Mail stated that experts were investigating the 400 million tonnes of waste that had been dumped into the vacant mine shaft workings. The claims made by Leigh about the waste poured down the hole being “treated”, is of course reference to their fake sealosafe product. As would be revealed in these investigations, the “seal” had not set at all, and it was more like pickled slurry that had filled the voids. In this context, their records of what had gone down there, as well as the claims that there were no ill health effects are shot to pieces. WHY WOULD ANYONE BELIEVE A COMPANY THAT HAD NOT DONE AS IT SAID IT WOULD WITH THE TOXIC WASTE? THE WASTE WAS UNTREATED. 



It was revealed in  11 January 1991 Sandwell Evening Mail that a second of Walsall council’s run West Midlands Hazardous waste unit had jumped onto the Leigh gravy train, or perhaps that should be mine cart. Andrew Morris had joined David O’Connor.

Also from this month, more protests took place outside the factory, and at this time, the company were also causing concern in Dudley with a waste site there (as mentioned in an article above) which had led to similar protests and links of solidarity between others fighting toxic waste sites in their own neighbourhoods. What is clear from the photograph below which appeared in the Express and Star archive , is that these were increasingly being fronted by political actors, and less by the community themselves. The two Liberal Democrat councillors (not from the actual area itself, and a Liberal Democrat MP Malcolm Bruce, from Scotland), appear in front of the protest signs and the familiar company sign.

The CAATW appeared to continue on into the mid 1990’s, though in truth never sustained the level of “action” it had had in its early heydays when it was a non political movement. Does this indicate that Leigh had “cleaned up” their act? Unlikely, as there were prosecutions and controversies  that continued for many years, not least the toxic waste still buried underneath the ground and “cemented” by their fake industrial polymer, which was exposed as such in a prosecution. They were probably better skilled at avoiding detection, not least from recruiting those in the know about potential regulatory loopholes. Stricter waste controls may have helped, but what had gone in already was never really dealt with at all. It is easy to just “cap” the crap, and to forget about it forever more.

Leigh were also a company who would attempt to ingratiate themselves into the community by putting on events and sponsorship; it may have bought some of the simple minded , but those at the forefront of the campaign could see these bribes for what they were.

The community had perhaps reluctantly learned to live with a polluter they never wanted, with bureaucrats and political failures who were useless at enforcing the weak environmental laws. Toxic waste dumping as an environmental campaign cause became less newsworthy in the headlines, to be replaced by “climate change”- an industry itself promoted by academia, the political class and business polluters themselves to perhaps take the public gaze off their toxic waste dumping practices from which they all prospered to the cost of human and environmental health.

When people are looking up to the global skies, they are no longer seeing what is being buried locally beneath them. Perhaps it’s time we started to look a little closer to home again at what lies beneath in our own back yards instead of  polar ice caps. 

The Simpsons Episode 21 GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY



Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Leigh Environment-HELL files#4 Community Action Against Toxic Waste

The Leigh Environment-HELL Files #3 The “Sealosafe” Deception

This post contrasts the claims made by representatives of Leigh Environmental about their much heralded “sealosafe”  process employed at their Walsall site, and the reviewed realities of the actual thing itself. There is little doubt that “sealosafe”  represents one of the biggest misleading claims in waste disposal history, and  that far from being the technology of the future, makes any site that ever used it far from “safe” for building anything on top of it.

It is worth at this point summarising the licences granted to Polymeric Treatments/Effluent Disposal/Leigh at this time for their expanding operations in Walsall. This is an extremely complicated web, and is quite difficult to fathom. But here goes….

The first sealosafe plant had seen  licences SL50 and SL51 approved on 20/8/77.

(Licence SL51 would be reissued on 23/12/1983.)

Site Licence SL231 relating to The Empire Marl hole was issued on 3/3/1978.

Site Licence SL323 relating to the allied “Oil and Water treatment plant” was issued on 27/7/1983.

These licences and subsequent modifications can be summarised in the pdf below.

leigh licences

Site Licence SL273 relating to the subsurface treatment facility at The Empire works was considered at a meeting of The West Midlands County Council Waste Disposal and Pollution Control Committee dated 17/1/1980. Minutes of this meeting reveal that after approval was given for the Mitco borehole, (Licence SL226 ,see previous post) ,resumption of underground discharge in the previous 2 years had seen an extra 28 million gallons of waste disposed of into the workings. This 24/7 facility had been subject to a planning enquiry in 1978, and the licence itself only just being considered. It anticipated that 28 million gallons of waste per annum would be discharged underground.

The licence conditions for this contentious licence can be read below.


From an FOI request submitted to Walsall council, it appears that Leigh gave formal notice of surrender for this licence on 29th October 1992, along with the dormant SL46 Mitco licence. 

Site licence SL324 relates to the Butterley Hole clay pits adjacent to the Empire Marl Hole, which Leigh also filled with “sealosafed” wastes.


The Butterley Hole claypits, where Leigh’s disastrous product would be used to fill them in with toxic waste.

SL324 ButterleyHole

N.B This licence clearly sets out setting tests and a monitoring regime that was supposed to be followed about the types of wastes able to be used. This should be remembered when evaluating issues which subsequently came to light many years later. 

An article from The Birmingham Post of 29th October 1974 makes many claims about sealosafe in a report compiled by the leigh subsidiary, but there is no evidence to support any of them. To summarise these

  • The claims made about changing the chemical nature of the hazardous wastes to make them less toxic is the equivalent of turning water into wine.
  • The claims made about the polymer being converted to a solid mass within three days.
  • The claims made about the dangerous substances not washing out of the mixture.

As this post will demonstrate, all of these claims were later found to be false. 

A later report published by a Messrs Chappell and Willets makes further claims about sealosafe  in the abstract. “Stablex” was the product allegedly formed after polymerisation had occurred.

“Sealosafe is a chemical treatment process for converting hazardous wastes to a solid rock-like polymer. Wastes are accepted into the process plant in liquid, solid or semi solid form. From storage facilities, the wastes are fed into a chemical reactor together with reactants. The reaction occurs at ambient temperatures and there are no effluent discharges to atmosphere or sewer. The treated wastes are pumped in slurry form to a landfill disposal site where they harden into a solid within three days. The polymer is impervious to water. Its permeability coefficient is less than that of concrete. Even when the polymer is ground to a fine powder and immersed in ten times its weight of water, pollutants cannot be leached from it. The pollutants are fixed by crystal capture, a combination of chemical and physical bonding, thus preventing the threat of water pollution. The polymers have high strength, sufficient to permit their use in land reclamation schemes. In this article, background to the research and development of the process for the detoxification of hazardous industrial waste is described.”

It should be pointed out that this “independent” assessment was nothing of the sort. S.L Willets would publish a book entitled “The scientific management of hazardous wastes” published just 3 years later alongside C. Cope and W Fuller. Some 17.5 pages of this tomb are devoted to this crap product, where it reads like a pitching advertisement, despite the preface of the book claiming “Mention of any trade name, commercial product or service does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation”  😆

It can be seen as to whom Chappell and Willets actually worked for!

“sealosafe” being tested in a laboratory.

 The following articles offer some interesting observations along the timeline of issued licences and the arguments behind their contentious determination.

Birmingham Daily Post 16th November 1976

This article highlights the incompetence and negligence of the Leigh/EDL/PTL set up and management. Bad house keeping of storing open drums of hazardous waste were reported in a paper to West Midlands county councillors. There is no doubt that open containers stored without cover could have leached out. Yet all we get from the pompous Malcolm Wood is more of the same denials and self important arrogance that he was well known for.

He claimed that the containers had been “sealosafed” and were curing- i.e hardening- yet the fact that they had been curing for some time perhaps started to ring alarm bells with the authorities that the scientific evidence behind sealsafe’s abilities was a fraud.


A post in 21st December 1976 Birmingham Daily Post revealed that the new West Mid sealosafe plant would be opened. It is again worth noting the false claims made by the company surrounding sealosafe in the article.

  • That hazardous wastes such as cyanide could be “converted” chemically
  • That it would set hard within two or three days
  • That it was impermeable to water
  • That it could be used to safely fill in quarries or other landfill sites

Birmingham Daily Post 15th April 1977. 

It is reported in this article that Government scientists would be appointed by Walsall council because they did not trust the WMCC to deliver a realistic assessment. I have to say that this was a wise move , because the integrity and knowledge of people like Ken Harvey- the county waste disposal officer was an utter joke.


The Birmingham Daily Post 21st June 1977

This post details that the Empire brickworks site and the plan to mobilise the sealosafe 2 plant. The comments by planner Alfred Wood- no relation to Malcolm, are pure fantasy, but unfortunately the work of an authority which had no idea of what it was doing in managing hazardous waste.



The Birmingham Daily post 17th August 1977. 

This piece almost appears as an advertisement and tells of how the Japanese had apparently fallen for the dubious product and the lie that it would set hard in a matter of hours. 

The Birmingham Daily Post 12th September 1977. 

This article reveals that planning permission had been approved for the second sealosafe process plant. The claimed amounts are interesting – the first plant supposedly treating 1000 tonnes a week, and the new plant claimed to treat 100,000 tonnes of acid wastes per year.  

The myriad of licences and disputed conditions from Leigh’s activities obviously gave the West Midlands County council many headaches. It appears as the dawn of the new decade began, they were attempting to streamline all the various licences and conditions into a single one, but without much success it seems. 🙄

Two item agendas from the waste disposal and pollution control committee of 30th October 1980 are quite interesting.

From a report by Ken Harvey, perhaps the last thing he wrote before his death,

“5 Details of Appeal by Polymeric Treatments  Ltd against conditions contained in a waste disposal  licence.

Under Section 10 of the Control of Pollution Act , an applicant has a right of appeal against any of the conditions contained therein to the secretary of state. The committee will recall several previous instances where the waste disposal department has received notification from the Dept. of the environment that such an appeal has been made to the minister. 

In July 1978 , Polymeric Treatments Ltd appealed to the secretary of state in respect of certain conditions contained in the site licence SL50/51 and SL231, breiefly-

(I) requirement to process water derived from site and “sealosafe” same (condition number 29).

(II) Requirement to supply records  of depositions on site

(iii) Prohibition on site receiving any wastes which cannot be completely treated (condition No. 7)

(iv) Requirement to fence site. (Condition No. 3)

Detailed and protracted negotiations conducted with the company re in amendments to Conditions 7 on SL50/51 and condition 7 on SL231 and agreement on Condition 6 of the licence to submit coded site returns to ensure confidentiality . This agreement is subject to full details being made available to the Authority on request . Following this, in late 1978 the company agreed to withdraw their appeal and on 28th February , 1979 write to the Authority confirming this. However, it was not until 29th September 1980 that formal notification of the appeal was finally received by the authority.

In both licences, Condition 7 now reads “the wastes which shall be received at the facility shall be only those wastes which by previous sampling and analysis have been shown to be adequately treated by the equipment and process currently operating at the facility. Solid materials (e.g bricks ends , pieces of metal etc) which are not capable of being processed through the plant and equipment shall be segregated and disposed of in an authorised manner. Any other wastes shall only be received after agreement has been obtained from the Waste Disposal Authority. ” “

Another agenda item from the same date about licences includes a useful summary of Leigh’s activities to date, and the issuing of licences. It reveals that organic wastes, that were not supposed to be processed, were. Disputes about this viability between regulator and company were ongoing.

It is worth once again stating the  SL324 BUTTERLEY HOLE Licence,  which can be read in the PDF below.

SL324 ButterleyHole

The pooled comments regards licences SL50/51, SL231 AND SL324 can be read in the PDF below. It is clear from this that Walsall council had numerous concerns about these licences as they stood.


It is also clear that the financial cost to the authority and monitoring falling on the company were a pretty poor combination. The WMCC would hand over regulation to Walsall council’s “West Midlands Hazardous Waste Unit” in 1986, and it was undoubtedly a poison chalice of scientific ignorance and breath taking blasé attitude as to what Leigh were doing at their sprawling site that continued into the 1980’s.

At the end of the decade, and perhaps only as a result of the sterling work of local residents and campaigners who formed the Community Action Against Toxic Waste group (CAATW)(see next post to this one), that scrutiny fell on the absolute horror story that had been going on for over a decade.

Subsequent news articles tell the story of the demise of Leigh’s much heralded polymer.

Sandwell Evening Mail 19th  June 1989

This report comments on a report commissioned by Walsall council involving Harwell laboratories into the sealosafe process. It also mentions the environmental health department considering the sealosafe waste licence. The article states as to how the council had withdrawn the licence after concerns about sealosafe the previous year due to the pits being “overfilled”. This was largely due to the work of the CAATW group.

It was already apparent, from a leak if you’ll excuse the pun  😉 that the sealosafe process had been found out in the report, and that the “solid” was in fact little more than a porridge slurry liquid.

Sandwell Evening Mail  20 June 1989

The following days paper revealed the revelation that in two of the pits containing over 1 million tonnes of buried waste ,(presumably Butterley hole), that only one third of the waste had set!

Councillor Barton described the scene as “a waste disposal time bomb for the future” -perhaps for Doctor Who to defuse 😛

The meeting rejected Leigh’s request to resume dumping waste using this fraudulent process.

The backtracking on their product is one of a company exposed and one in complete denial about its shit laboratory “science.”

It did fuck all actually!

The mixture at rattlechain lagoon was also supposed to “neutralise” the waste there using lime, or calcium phosphate, except it didn’t do that either. Oh, but it worked perfectly in the lab, beaker!  😀

 Sandwell Evening Mail 27th June 1989

A full scale PR job was obviously now required on the part of this company, and so this is what appeared to be the case from this article. It is interesting to directly compare this one, with the phoney claims made in the first article of The Birmingham Post of 29th October 1974, some 15 years earlier.

This material, they had earlier claimed in other articles would practically revolutionise planning in the future, in that it would be “safe” to build new houses on top of within months, the material setting “solid within three days”.

The rest of the statements are just spin, from what was a disastrous report for this company and the “safety” of this useless slurry dross.

As the ENDS report from 1st January 1995  would later report about Harwell’s observations “According to Harwell, these were “indicative of a level of organics in the waste polymer mix which are unlikely to be compatible with generation of a polymer product with satisfactory physical and structural (as well as leaching) properties.” 

The report backed up concerns about landslips and leachate getting into a water course, and nothing of the fantasy that the Leigh director spoke of.

Sandwell Evening Mail 27th June 1989

This is an updated and expanded story on the previous earlier edition, but it contains a very important statement, as regards Walsall council officers, as well as presumably Mr David  O’Connor and his colleagues from The Walsall council run West Midlands Hazardous Waste Unit. O’Connor, had in fact left this organisation that very month, before the Harwell report had been published, for a position as “technical manager” at the very company he presumably had been “monitoring” for environmental compliance of the “sealosafe” process. I think that one just leaves to be left there.  🙄

“The condition of the polymer beds was known to environmental inspectors, who visited the site daily”.

 Sandwell Evening Mail 13th October 1989

This article deals with planning and licence appeals made by the company against Walsall council. Incredibly, they would later pass all of them in 1995, though Leigh would by this time not use sealosafe again after this time. What role The Department of Environment had in knowledge about this fiasco is open to question, but it smells very, very bad indeed. The British Government had presumably been very happy for the collective shite of British industry to pour all of this into an open hole and forget about it. Would they really ever make a ruling which showed that this dire flawed and unsafe process was “unsafe” and the millions, if not billions of pounds needed to put it right? This Conservative  Government at the time were the arse lickers of business’s like Leigh Environmental, and despised anything and anyone campaigning for environmental activism.

Sandwell Evening Mail 12th December 1989

This article is a very rare example of a local politician actually calling it like it was, and well done to Malcolm Barton for doing so at the time. He had called for an enquiry into the officers of Walsall council’s environmental health department, and why they had utterly failed to report on the failures of the “sealosafe” process which they knew about. Of course, a similar one should have been launched into The Hazardous waste unit, and its officers failures – also run by the useless Walsall council civil servants. 

The motion was defeated, yet I would seriously question both (a) The scientific knowledge of these officers at this particular time, and (b) their professional integrity as public servants in failing to report on the failures of this company. Perhaps an inquiry would have also felt the collars of some local amateur politicians, too close to Leigh Interests business dealings? How was it that the clear monitoring as required and set out in the SL324 licence for sealosafe at Butterley hole had not been followed for all of those years? 


Sandwell Evening Mail 4th July 1990

A further report from Harwell laboratories for Walsall council in the following year, showed that the best option for making safe the unsafe sealosafe was to cap it. This failure of course to deal with the disastrous method, which was a total failure in everything that it had claimed to do , was the “timebomb for the future” that Cllr Barton had spoken of. It was a failure of the Walsall council officers, a failure of The Hazardous Waste Unit, and of course, a failure of the useless  idiot Ken Harvey and The West Midlands County council for ever allowing this cowboy waste disposal firm outfit the legitimacy of using clay holes for dumping toxic wastes.

How Walsall councillors could look themselves in the mirror after this failure , and NOT commission a report into their officers total failures, shows them up to be the disgrace that they were. 


Despite trying to brush off the damaging independent rubbishing of sealosafe and it’s fake properties, a further major blow for Leigh’s bogus product came when they were convicted for continuing to make false claims about it in a promotional video, fronted by at the time, the well known Tomorrow’s World presenter  Peter McCann,   (pictured at the head of this post). The  Sandwell Evening Mail dated 7th December 1991 broke the news by stating that Walsall council trading standards had taken them to court under the Trades Description Act for exaggerating the properties of the polymer and its uses. The “ill advised, inaccurate and misleading” statements were condemned by the magistrate.

The same paper on 19th December 1991 reported that the company were fined £7,000 for the distorted false claims, as well as the £72,000 court costs for the seven breaches of the TDA. These were under section 14(1)(a), which makes it an offence knowingly to make a false statement about the nature of a service.

It is further revealed in an article dated 1st March 1992 from The END’s report that McCann had actually stood on a claimed solid block of sealosafe and

“….His footsteps are heard on the solid surface as he comments “I would hardly be standing here if it wasn’t entirely safe”.”  😳 

There is also a little known story concerning a visit to the plant by Prince Phillip, The Duke of Edinburgh. He was presented with a pair of wellies by the company hirachy, and told to stand in  sealosafe to test its alleged quick hardening properties. The Leigh bosses were made to look like idiots when Nick The Greek was left standing in porridge, with the sealosafe failing to set at all.

A further ENDS article concerning  Butterley hole and sealosafe  from 1st January 1995 reveals what had taken place.

“After encountering serious difficulties in attempting to recover drill samples from some of the deposits because they were so soft, Harwell concluded that they all had a high liquid content and a poor compressive strength. Some were highly permeable. Leachate from some areas also contained high levels of organic compounds. According to Harwell, these were “indicative of a level of organics in the waste polymer mix which are unlikely to be compatible with generation of a polymer product with satisfactory physical and structural (as well as leaching) properties.”

Leigh’s appeal against the refusal of a licence was narrowed down in 1991 to a part of Butterley Hole with about 100,000 cubic metres of void. The refusal was made on the grounds that the Sealosafe process had failed to produce polymer consistently to the relevant patents, and in order to prevent water pollution and danger to public health.”

Leigh made the claim on appeal that the quality of the polymer would be much improved, but contrast this bullshit with the earlier claims that they had made about a “technological breakthrough” when able to treat organic wastes. The claims were fantasy. 

Two further academic independent reports pour cold water on sealosafe and its properties.

compares the product with an American rival called “chemfix” and looks at the chemistry behind the claims.

“Some of the most popular stabilisation/solidification techniques are those using a cement based technique to produce a solid monolithic mass. These techniques have been used for a number of years for heavy metal and certain inorganic wastes . However they are not as satisfactory for organic wastes since, unlike inorganic waste, there is little interaction between the organic material and the cementitious matrix, which results in soluble organic material and insoluble organic liquids being easily leached out by rainwater.”

This study also demonstrates that claims made about “impermeable” marl clay pits , like those at Butterley hole, can be affected by certain chemicals, particularly organic chemicals,  and are not the “impermeable” cups that waste disposalists and their many apologist pocket geologist “experts” would like to claim that they are.

A second study reveals from the benefit of hindsight, the many flaws of sealosafe, and references the faults of leigh and their factory at Walsall.

Stabilisation/Solidification Treatment and Remediation: Proceedings …

Abir Al Tabbaa, ‎Julia A Stegemann – 2005

Here are the key statements

 Heavy metals and organic materials could leach out in high concentrations, in contrast to the false claims originally made about sealosafe. 

This fiasco, which is what it remains, shows how science can be manipulated by certain companies to produce fanciful appealing cat bowl dishes, to which the political class, and their idiot civil servants lick their lips. If something seems like a quick cheap option, and too good to be true, then chances are it probably is just that. We are told as consumers to be weary of doorstep conmen wearing a cheap suit and a handsome smile. The problem is that people who wear white coats and have letters after their name, are no less trustworthy, yet they are more deceptive by their appearance.

The whole filling of these claypit holes, every clay pit hole ever dug out, with toxic waste was a terrible idea, and one certainly to this day which remains a “timebomb to the future”.


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The Leigh Environment-HELL Files #2- The Mitco Grime Lords

Stick with me and my sonic screwdriver, all will be revealed.

Leigh Interests via their “Effluent Disposal” subsidiary had commenced disposal of millions of gallons of toxic and acidic wastes into the large former Walsall Wood Colliery workings. A blockage had occurred, which led to them looking for alternative outlets.

The Birmingham Daily Post article of June 6th 1976 sets the scene for the story so far and what happened next….



The article reveals quite serious failings, not only for this company but for the local authorities, who it appears were utterly clueless in what to do for the best. In one respect their pandering to business interests was obviously in contrast to their appeasement of concerned locals- who of course elected them in and could elect them out. The West Midands it appears was the shit tip dumping ground of the UK,(over 40% of the acidic wastes originating from outside the area), and whilst a very few businessmen in Leigh Interests who did not live in the area profited, no one else in the area did.

The article refers to “The Mitco site” which was an area on the workings of the former Aldridge colliery  in Walsall Wood.


Effectively this was a toxic lagoon like rattlechain, formed when the liquid waste was diverted from the Leigh blocked shaft. After being “neutralised”, from here it was ferried to Liverpool where it was dumped into the sea! The dithering of those responsible for this fiasco is as bad as the “breach of planning regulations” themselves. Leigh’s other site, Joberns Tip, a close neighbour off Coppice lane and Northgate  is also mentioned as a problem site. Both sites would soon be given waste disposal licence permission when new legislation was introduced under “The Control of Pollution Act.” . The mitco site was numbered SL46 – LEIGH INTERESTS LIMITED MITCO SITE, COPPICE LANE ALDRIDGE WALSALL. 

A nasty lagoon full of toxic dumped waste

Overlay of current map and the 1901 outline. The Aldridge brick and Tile works site lay next to the Mitco site and Jobern’s Tip. This company was taken over by Ibstock in 1965 who are still based in this area.

I have been unable so far in my endeavours to locate this licence as well as that issued to the Jobern’s Tip site, which was given the title SL47 “EFFLUENT DISPOSAL LTD JOBERNS TIP, COPPICE LANE , ALDRIDGE, WALSALL.” 

The environment agency claimed that they did not have these licences in an FOI request, and neither did Walsall council initially, despite them providing the secretariat to The West Midlands Hazardous Waste unit 1986-1996 which followed the demise of the West Midlands County Council!  After a modified request, WMBC came back with a little more information

“We have copies of the draft licence that was supplied to the WMHWU however
we do not hold a copy of the officially issued licence and not have been
provided with one by return from the WMHWU.  They would have been
transferred to the Environment Agency once they took over as regulators
for waste facilities.”  😐 

Walsall  provided some of the draft conditions for the Joberns Tip site, and evidence of an enforcement notice issued against Leigh on 13/5/1975 with a useful map of this site. 

From my own private research, The Mitco SL46 was passed as a licence issued by The West Midlands County Council Waste Disposal Committee after some delay due to    “awaiting agreement between Effluent disposal limited and Severn Trent Water Authority over the removal of ‘water’ from the lagoon.”   The minutes of the 22nd December 1977  meeting of the county council committee confirm that it had been issued, along with another Effluent disposal site at Tividale, SL75 known  as “Monk’s Tip”.

It appears that from a modification notice supplied by WMBC in the request, that the licence was passed by WMCC on 21st February 1978, and that after this date Leigh had applied for it to be modified again to extend the life of the original date given to complete works. 

To rewind a little on events taking place up to this date- On 4th August 1976, a House of Commons debate on Waste disposal in the West Midands led to some interesting observations and comments by Perry Barr MP Jeoff Rooker. 

From this debate he stated;

“Toxic waste is still being generated in the West Midlands. It is, in fact, being generated all over the country, because 40 per cent. of the waste which was being disposed of down the mine came from other parts of the country. The waste is still being disposed of, but now it is not hidden away several hundred feet below the ground but is being disposed of in an open lagoon of several hundred thousand gallons of poisonous waste. It is so dirty that the Health and Safety Inspectorate will not allow its inspectors to investigate the site. The lagoon is littered with tin drums and other rubbish which cannot be recovered. The area has been condemned as “monstrous” by Sir Stanley Yapp, who says that it is

“The unacceptable face of tipping”,

and that

“Effluent Disposal Ltd. is showing a reckless disregard for planning conditions”.

It has been condemned by the chairman of the county council’s planning committee as totally unacceptable. Calls have gone from the county council, which has overall responsibility for the problem, to the Department of Industry urging Ministers to explore the possibility of offering incentives to firms to purchase equipment with which to treat their own waste. That is a laudable step because little is being done in that direction in this country—although I am sure that my right hon. Friend the Minister will describe moves that are being made to avoid the dumping of waste in Essex. Wholesale dumping occurs off our shores, and there is also the nuclear waste that we do not know what to do with. In The Birmingham Evening Mail of 6th July the Managing Director of Effluent Disposal Ltd, Mr. Malcolm Wood, referring to the remarks of Sir Stanley Yapp, is quoted as saying:

Sir Stan is fully entitled to his opinions. He has only to close us down and he can deal with the 800 industrial firms in the West Midlands who seem to think that we are the right place for them. If he will tell us to which county waste disposal sites we can take the effluent, we will do it tomorrow.”

That is an irresponsible attitude. He shows not the slightest concern over the generating of waste. Those 800 firms should be doing something about the problem themselves. “

Never mind TorchWood, with the self absorbed Mr Wood

Clearly the dumping of the waste at sea and ferrying it there was a disgrace, but so was bringing it to Walsall in the first place. Leigh would use deeply underhand tactics in creating one problem to resume regeneration of underground discharge as a “solution”. 

A plan to drill a new borehole adjacent to the Mitco tip was proposed and highlighted in this Birmingham post article of 1st July. The “exploration” part of this in terms of anything to do with the Walsall Wood blockage was a phoney claim.

Holey Shit!

On October 15th 1976, The Post exposed that a former sewage works in Kinver was eyed as being another potential “solution” but had been abandoned with fierce local opposition. It is highlighted that not only were Walsall council taking legal action against the company but also The Health and Safety Executive for “unsafe working conditions and practices” at the Mitco site.

A subsequent interesting  article of 9th December  discusses the waste “war” issues that the West Midlands faced at this time, with particular reference to the subterranean  and the Mitco lagoon problems. It also attempts to look at the problems of “neutralising” wastes (at Mitco by powdered limestone and then slacked lime)- except at this point in history, this process did anything but. It rightly shows how utterly useless this metro council were in doing anything except telling industry to “get on with it” whilst we vaguely monitor what you are doing. Rather than creating their own waste disposal site , they had no real “experts” to advise them.

A Birmingham University lecturer disagrees with Effluent Disposal that their Walsall Wood  site is “hermetically sealed” and how the waste there was being contained.

The same paper on 21st December revealed a wonderful “present” to the area in the form of  new plans for a toxic waste plant  that would be called “The WestMid”. This was clearly a perverse attempt at persuading locals that other people’s toxic waste somehow gave some ownership to the area where it was being diverted for the profit of a few men.

Overlay of current Empire site where leigh built their new plant, and the overlay of the former Empire Marl hole and brickworks from 1901.


Once again The Mitco lagoon and Jobern’s tip sites are mentioned in the article as being a problem– (a problem remember that Leigh had created)- and that Wasall council had now served notices upon. Quoted in this article is one Philip Cope, Leigh’s Polymeric treatments “waste management consultant” . A “C.B. Cope” along with two others W.H Fuller and S.L Willets would write a book called “the scientific management of hazardous wastes”:mrgreen: though not revealing their links to this company in the multiple advertising of the companies much heralded “sealosafe” process. I will be going into much detail about “sealosafe” and the total disingenuous liability that it was in the next of these posts about this company, but “safe” to say the “scientific” claims about its ability were absolute bunkem from day one.

Also quoted here is the useless Ken Harvey, a man who when he died in 1980 left behind a toxic legacy of failure as the county waste disposal officer of this useless metro council authority. The new borehole that is spoken of here is the deception that Leigh  used to remove the mitco lagoon problem, as well as continuing their underground disposal.

Perhaps a woman in Harvey’s place would have done a better job of maintaining the police role of regulator.  😆


And so the new year brought more bad headlines for Leigh, and the title of this post from February 15th 1977 refers directly to this headline and direct quote from one of the local councillors who had visited the sprawling Leigh sites. “Toxic waste site ‘looks like something out of Dr Who”.

I’m not sure if this was in the form of cybermen, or a turdis that looked bigger on the inside than it did on the outside?

The chair of the County Council William Jarvis said that they should have “some teeth” and visit the “disgraceful” situation there at the Mitco tip.

Sir Stan Yapp the leader of the council went even further, and perhaps rarely for a politician was not prepared to just pay lip service to a local business, directly criticising the main man behind Leigh’s /effluent disposal’s operations, Malcolm Wood.





Sir Stan Yapp “Certainly those who have met the managing director Mr Wood, know what a smug and arrogant man he is and completely contemptuous of councillors and people operating in the public interest.”



This criticism didn’t go down very well with the stooges of Leigh who began a letter writing campaign in the paper after this story appeared, even one from Wood’s secretary to which straight talking Stan came back with this beautiful one liner….

Environmental hero- Sir Stan

It is revealed in the Birmingham Post article that Effluent Disposal had been fined a month earlier a total of £500 on their sites for dumping poisonous wastes likely to cause harm to the environment, one of which was at The Mitco site. It was clear that the powers that be wanted this site closed as soon as possible.

As 1977 progressed, so did the aspirations of the disposal deceivers. The headline of 21st June confirmed that they had been given permission to extend its operations at The Empire brickworks. The “sealosafe” process would be used in the new plant, (sealosafe 1) and by now the new licensing system, so flawed in every way, had come into force. This would later be licensed under SL50/51, originally issued on 20/8/1977 , though litigation about conditions would go on for some years and this would evolve into just a new SL51 licence.  The comments of the planner, also called Wood, though I don’t think a relation to the other one from Leigh, are optimistic to say the least. It was quite clear however as would be revealed that they had been totally conned about the real intentions!

In the same paper on 24th August, we get the first inkling as to the strategy that the directors of Leigh were taking. It was quite clear that the “surface” tip that they had created and the fury that it had produced was a ruse to divert this shite down into the ground but in a different location, glued together by their fake “sealosafe” product.

Effluent Disposal had applied for planning permission to recommence underground discharge and clear the Mitco lagoon. Politically this was not a welcome development, and local MP Geoff Edge for Aldridge Brownhills appeared at the forefront of attempting to stop it. The counterclaims by the supercilious Wood of EDL appear typical and confirm everything that Stan Yapp had said about him to be absolutely true. The test borehole was an utter premeditated con job by him and his company. 

A further Post article from  25th August reported that Geoff Edge had gained support from over 2000 local residents who had signed a petition against Leigh Environmental from resuming underground waste dumping from the Mitco lagoon. The comment from David Anderton from the company appears to confirm what would subsequently happen to the site and the site licence that they had applied for. The landfilling operations at the site were just a means to an end for this company, and the talk of industry suffering as a result of not being able to use the facility a smokescreen for the profit that Leigh were making. Local residents in this area did NOT have to accept the fact that an area for the toxic waste of industry should be dumped under their homes. They did NOT have to accept that Leigh Interests had any right to do so. They did NOT have to accept that they should all have to bend over backwards for one single company. The comment from the paid consultant from Leigh and that of the local resident about “water” also speaks volumes.

“You aren’t on about “water”, you are on about poison.”

The Post ran another story on 13th October. It is stated that the WMCC would contest the plans for a temporary underground dumping to be decided by the local committee that week.

Public concerns clearly outweighed those of this one business to at least some of the committee, but what planet Councillor Clewes was on is a different story. The legal agreement put forward by the officer wasn’t really a good idea based on “the bad track record ” of the dumpers.

Leigh wanted to sell this idea as removing the issue of the lagoon- a problem of their creation, and removing lorries from the local roads- again their created problem.

The 8th November Birmingham Post reported that an influential group in the West Midlands had backed residents concerns about the tipping of wastes underground. Comments made by Malcolm Wood about the ability of “sealosafe” blocks  would prove to be completely false.


At the infamous West Midlands County Council Waste Disposal & Pollution Control Committee of 22nd December 1977, the previous two “contentious licence” agenda items (b) and (c) are notable, and I include the full page here, because they relate to Rattlechain lagoon and The Gower Tip, as well as The Accles and Pollock acid lagoon at their Paddock works in Shidas Lane! What an absolutely disgusting barrage of pollution and future (still unresolved today) grime was summarised and passed that day by the bloody fools on this committee!

The issues surrounding this licence were touched upon in the previous news article, but the issue for the WMCC appears to have been about Walsall council’s agreement with Leigh interests and the Section 52 agreement. For some reason, this council had made their own problems with this ludicrous agreement in that there was a time limit for the removal of the liquid waste by the end of 1978. It had also time limited the landfilling of the site to the same date, and the landscaping to 31st March 1979. Clearly Leigh had played them for the fools that they were.

There are some strange irregularities with the approval of this licence- by one man, the chair Councillor Smith, and of the dodgy deal which appears to have taken place between Walsall council and this dirty polluter that it had concerns about. It is interesting to note that at this time there was a domestic landfill waste disposal problem in Walsall with capacity, yet Leigh had outbid the council on potential solutions to this by buying the brickwork sites, with their subsidiary “Leigh Land Reclamation Limited” and effectively having them over a barrel.

The licence approved in appendix E refers to SL226 and can be read in the PDF below.

SL226 Mitco borehole

This licence with its  21  conditions is shown as being issued on 22nd November 1977. It appears however  that  an extension was sort from The West Midlands County Council ,after the proposed agreement with WMBC ,as an amendment to SL46 giving this licence an extension to 31st July 1980, (as mentioned in the modification that Walsall council supplied me with in the FOI request.) 

A WMCC Joint planning/Waste disposal committee meeting dated April 12th 1978 took place. This was to give recommendations to Walsall Council planners as to the application for continuous resumed discharge to the new borehole that would later become the SL273 licenced area.

The motion put forward to reject the application was lost by both committees and therefore approved! The planning committee consisting of 8 members was tied, but Councillor Campbell as chair gave his vote in favour of Leigh. The disgraceful “waste disposal and pollution control committee” (a sick description if ever there was one), cast their vote in favour of Leigh 8-5. 

So for the benefit of historic record, here is the list of those county councillors who sold out the people of Walsall in voting through the scheme by this vile industrial polluter.

From planning Campbell, Griffiths, Ledbetter(see comment above in article about “cleaning up their act”- what a burk!) , Lynne

From The Waste disposal and pollution control committee

Ison (no surprise there), Dr Jones, Lea, Qualters, Shires, H. Smith (the one man who had granted Leigh permission as chair for their licence in December 1977), Tozer, and Wilkes.

And here for historic record are the list of those who stood up for the local people of Walsall against this.  

From Planning

Hayward, Spector, Wood and Wright.

From waste disposal and pollution control committee, doing their jobs

Councillors Dr Rogers, Anderson, Downey, Milne, and White.

It does appear that despite this bonkers recommendation, that Walsall had the foresight to reject the proposal, only for it to be subsequently overturned on appeal at a planning enquiry by the company.  👿

Leigh would eventually clear the lagoon, and recommence dumping below the surface, but the problems that they had with their methods, and the opposition to their activities from local residents would continue for many years. 

The outline of the former hazardous waste lagoon is still visible and even still contains a “water feature”. Image bing maps.

Jobern’s Tip remains in the centre of the picture, in close proximity to the Mitco lagoon remnants site.


I’m sure this looks like Shelfield.  😆

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The Leigh Environment-HELL Files #1 Origins of a waste polluter from HELL.

This blog will always exist to tell the story of the victims of industrial pollution, be it from a belching factory or the waste from industrial concerns that pollutes the environment and causes significant problems for health and wellbeing of potential receptors. There appear to be common themes throughout the world regards chemical factories and the damage that they cause to people’s quality of life, as well as pollution to the environment. It is interesting to explore the history of these sites as a warning to the future, where much of the information has been conveniently and in some instances deliberately buried.

The reputation of some “waste disposal” companies precedes them, and the former UK based Leigh Environmental were well known to be one of the most persistent environmental polluters in the country, and certainly in the West Midlands where they were unfortunately centred in the Walsall area.

In this first of five posts, this is the origins story. 

Leigh appeared on the scene with a venture by Leonard Leigh Interests Limited– a canal carrier company established for many years, in the same manner as Alfred Matty, who dumped large amounts of industrial waste for their profit, (and to the negative impact on the environment of the past and for the future),  haphazardly to land without any real regulation. As water gypsies, (substitute conifer clippings and tarmac dumped in country lanes for oily sludges to land on canal banks), they were of course the servants of industry, supported by the political class whose arguments when anyone raised an objection would be to claim that job losses would result if they stopped their vile morally bankrupt operations. Any former clay pit or quarry where they could tip was a convenient toilet for any old chemical crap or liquid sludge. They could do so with impunity and anything went.

When more stringent waste regulations came in due to The Deposit of Poisonous Wastes Act 1972 and the Control of Pollution Act 1974, these companies had to then refocus their appalling pollution record into some “legitimate” entity- and so it was with “Effluent Disposal Limited” an offshoot of Leigh Interests Limited which in time would eventually become another subsidiary “Leigh Environmental”.

Based in Brownhills, Effluent Disposal Limited(EDL), applied for a waste disposal licence to infill a mine shaft complex at the former Walsall Wood Colliery. Production at the colliery is reported to have ceased in 1964, and so like many other vacant receptacles, these opportunist sheisters set about filling it in with the vile crap of industry, thanks to the highly dubious National Coal Board.

It was commented upon by The West Midlands County Council in a January 1980 meeting of The Waste Disposal and Pollution Control Committee that the workings in this area were “a geological freak”  in that the mining area was confined to within a faulted geological block.

An illustration of this is shown below.

From “The scientific management of Hazardous wastes” Cope, Fuller, Willetts Cambridge 1983

The remnants of the colliery, and of the shaft now lie on the Brownhills industrial estate.

It is clear that there was collaboration with Matty’s in this venture, with W. Matty listed as a director of the subsidiary in the following article from 1967. It would indeed prove to be “a very valuable asset” to this company, though certainly not to a single soul living anywhere near it. 

Birmingham Daily Post September 6th 1967

A further notice from 1972 shows that W. Matty had been with this company (a fellow barge dumping enterprise) for some 38 years!

Counsel in dumping poisonous toxic disgusting waste?

One of the early big players in the company was David O’ Donnell. Others entering the limelight of local public wrath would be Malcolm Wood and “The Brigadier” Edward Wilkinson. 

“Rapidly expanding” industrial polluter!

The non descript “acids and sludges”


Before the licensing of waste disposal- particularly of hazardous chemicals, it is clear that canal carrying companies and others had either their own tips, or used others. Many of these operations in the industrially scarred West Midlands were old pit shafts and marl holes- just like Rattlechain lagoon amongst others. A Birmingham Post article from 1971 is interesting in that it predicted a “pollution time bomb” warning from a then public health inspector about such practices, and the race for companies to “snap up” these sites for convenient quick profitable disposal.

Mentioned in this article is Mr Malcolm Wood of Effluent Disposal. It states that this company had up to this point pumped 77.25 million gallons of liquids and sludge into such sites, with about 80% of it into the 12+ miles of void in the Walsall Wood colliery- of course, this would stretch right under the ground where people lived. The claims about the marl are wishful thinking, but typical of a time when anything went- and with this company they certainly did.


In 1972, The Deposit of Poisonous Wastes Act , which was supposed to  protect people from the rampant dumping of dangerous chemicals such as cyanide that had been occurring across the country, and particularly in The West Midlands came into being. During the Bill reading debate, MP Thomas Urwin representing the Northern constituency of Houghton -le Spring made an astute and telling prediction.

“Friends representing constituencies in the North, and as applies also to many coal-mining areas throughout the country, we are highly vulnerable to this kind of indiscriminate disposal of all kinds of materials if only because there is a proliferation of pit shafts, many of them unmarked and long-since forgotten, but nevertheless in the ownership of the National Coal Board. Such large holes in the ground are a big attraction to people who want to absolve themselves of any financial responsibility by disposing of wastes through them.”

It would prove to be that the former Walsall Wood colliery coal mine venture by EDL would have a major negative impact on the local area. Urwin  in the same debate also foretold the problems of such subterranean outlets for hazardous waste dumping, and raised the issue of safety. 

“Because a precedent has been established at Walsall in Staffordshire, and as we now have this second and presumably only other known application for the use of a colliery for this purpose, it seems to me that this is the beginning of the establishment of what could well be a national policy….

…Indicative of the deep concern expressed by the man-in-the-street and by experts are the television discussions, question and answer sessions and articles and letters in the correspondence columns of the local Press. I ask the indulgence of the House to quote from an interview which was conducted on 1st March on the B.B.C. Northern Region News with Dr. Hooper, who reads pharmaceutical chemistry in Sunderland Polytechnic. He was asked whether any danger would arise from the dumping of cyanide in Silksworth colliery.

The expert replied: I think there must be. Unless cast-iron guarantees can be given that this could not happen, I would not be happy, and I would question the whole philosophy that if you take toxic material and put it in a large hole in the ground this is the best way of dealing with it. We have the technology, we have the scientific knowledge and ability to render this material non-toxic.

He was asked whether we could do this, and he replied: Yes, I think we can. I think the only question is that of cost and then it becomes a matter of Government and social priorities. Do we value cheap economic processes more than we value the exposure of people’s lives to very serious chemical hazards?

There may be no risk to people’s lives, there may be no chemical hazard, but I ask the right hon. Gentleman to look more closely into this matter. He has assured my hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, South that if necessary the resources of his Department can be made available to ensure complete satisfaction.

Has the Minister estimated the cost of rendering such toxic materials safe and non-toxic for all time? Has he estimated the cost of conducting extensive and intensive technological research into converting the materials for re-use? In conjunction with the Bill, what research is being done?”

And any cogent answer came there none. 

Another article from The Birmingham Post 10th February 1972 confirms that Leigh had been dealing with human contaminated shit from the Minworth sewage works to be dumped down the hole at Walsall Wood, but had been served enforcement notices by the then Aldridge-Brownhills Urban Council. The smell is noted to have been one of the main reasons for this, after complaints from local residents. (some things never change) 🙄 Bizarrely the brief of Leigh describes the underground hole as “an ideal spot”  🙄

Malcolm Wood would be frequently quoted using a defence of enforcement by authority as a means to attempting to divert attention away from an equally disgusting waste carrying prospect- in this case using the cogent council concerns about his dire company activities, to explain that leaking lorries dumping the effluent instead on an open tip in Cannock had been caused by their decision. It is a perverse argument, but from what I have read and heard of the man, he was a complete #anchor.

The Deposit of Poisonous Wastes Act would prove to be a kneejerk utter failure in stopping industrial polluters like Effluent Disposal Limited from using these out of sight, out of mind holes for infilling. Just because they were convenient and hidden, it did not make it “safe”. In the same way, Albright and Wilson’s Rattlechain lagoon and the Gower Tip would also continue to be used for exactly the same purposes. Another site known as “the Monks Tip” SL76 along the Gower Branch canal was another Effluent Disposal Limited sludge waste site- about which very little appears to be known. 

1976 was the major year when site licences were being drawn up to be issued by the useless West Midlands County Council under the new licensing scheme legislation of The Control of Pollution Act 1974.  In this year, MP for Perry Barr Jeff Rooker reported in Parliament about the EDL site during a debate on waste disposal in The West Midlands and what had took place up to this point in time:

“In a recent 12-month period 10 million gallons of waste was poured down the mine shaft. It is a warren of toxic waste, because the shaft goes 500 feet underground and then 3,000 feet along the old mine workings.

The action of dumping waste has been defended by the company disposing of the waste—Effluent Disposal Limited. It intends to continue dumping millions of gallons of waste down the mine shaft for the next 20 years—in fact, till the end of the century. It claims that the mine shaft is a safe geological bottle, because the toxic poisonous waste cannot escape.

In fact, this is a geological time bomb which will probably affect our children and future generations. No one really knows what is happening down there. It is not possible to inspect the underground area. Even worse, six weeks ago a blockage occurred. The shaft and the workings can supposedly be used for 20 years. Because of the blockage, nothing is being dumped down there. The company is attempting to get planning permission to bore a hole to release the blockage by means of air pressure. The local residents are very opposed to this. Most of them did not appreciate what was happening. It was only the blockage that brought the operations at the mine shaft to the attention of the public.”

This instantly rings many alarm bells for me as a latter day environmental campaigner with my own story and dumping site at Rattlechain Lagoon. There are very familiar themes.

  • A large company who appear to have been doing something for years, with dubious safety boasts that were not properly independently investigated.
  • A site licence sought and issued by a bunch of cretins- not least the county waste disposal officer Ken Harvey.
  • Local residents being in the dark about what was happening and being dumped, and of course the inevitable statutory nuisance issues of potential explosions, fires and smells, as well as the insidious effects on health of living next to “a time bomb” site.

The blockage referred to in his speech reportedly occurred due to the brick shaft wall  and the Etruria marl behind it collapsing to form a bung. This “seal” would prove not to be the solution that they were looking for in dumping this highly toxic waste, which included chromium, arsenic and cyanide.

Not only did the Leigh Interests and EDL’s subterranean method of disposal come in for criticism from local residents who did not want this under their homes, and politicians who supported them, industry itself appeared to be critical of the approach to not deal with hazardous waste responsibly as an authority rather than leaving it to private companies, who could literally make a killing by dumping it underground.

This is not to say that the people of Walsall who did not want this menace were Nimby’s, rather the managing directors and the high echelons within Leigh Interests and associated companies themselves were the Nimby’s for not wanting to fill such holes with the stuff in places such as Landywood, Telford and Bakewell in the Derbyshire Dales where THEY lived. 

The West Midlands County Association of Trades Council’s passed a resolution which read

“All underground dumping of toxic waste should be halted immediately… we consider this to be a hazard to present and future generations…”


To get around their blockage, EDL would look for an alternative surface “lagoon” site on the workings of the former Aldridge Colliery to continue the dumping, which forms the next part of the Leigh Environment-HELL story.


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Tonka’s Tin pot “Garden City”- First shots fired


In recent times, the unwanted “West Midlands Metro Mayor” Andy Street has been plugging his “brownfield first” house building agenda, ably assisted by his local media parrots in The Express and Star, and by the select band of semi rural elitists who consider that every new home should be built in the Black Country on any old shit piece of “brownfield” land, so long as it is well away from theirs.

I have long campaigned for urban wildlife and the few green spaces that we have left in our area, but the battle , because that is what we are now facing from Street’s insidious agenda is now a full on war. The site at Friar park was flogged off by one of the areas worst polluters Severn Trent Water and will be remediated  not by them but from a taxpayers fund controlled by Street. This is for 75o houses, so at least 1500 extra people in an already poorly served deprived area. As well as this the demise of local wildlife that has found a home on this greened area, and which is not “brownfield” at all except in name. The vile Natural England are increasingly giving licences to eradicate wildlife where they are a problem for developers, and all the legal safeguards for protected species do not seem to apply for urban areas, but are very often used by the greenbelters for reasons to stop developments in their own back yards.

Street, like every other politician is a gambler of votes. His rationale is that people in the black country will not voice their opinions about the totally unwanted and unnecessary house building programme that the dubious house building industry and their selected “black country local enterprise partnership” buddies and shills are constantly telling us “we need”.

He relies on the fact that those who live on the edge of Staffordshire, some of the DY3’ers and the Tettenhall mafia, number amongst them professional well paid jobs, and they can afford good legal advice and challenge the decision making process with judicial reviews. He knows that people living in places such as Friar Park or Tipton cannot.

The recent report ,  The Urban Capacity Review” claims that there will be a shortfall of around 27,000 homes in the Black country till 2038 and that there will be a need to release so called “greenbelt” land to make up the shortfall. The “core strategy” has now it appears been rebranded “the plan”. 

I do not know how this faceless body of bureaucrats make up these figures, but they are bullshit. We have had years of the disastrous social experiment of free European movement, which is now, Thank God ,about to come to an end. This hopefully means an end to mass migration into this part of the world, much to the lament of the house builders who like the rest of the business based remoaners, welcomed mass migration and increased breeding with open arms. There are many homes that are in private ownership that have been abandoned for years within existing estates, and it is time that all of these were seized from the “owners” with immediate effect. But of course, this is not what the house builders and their political mates want, and one notes the number of politicians who are themselves private landlords.

Mayor Street immediately hit back slamming the report, but quite honestly I believe that its publication was merely a vehicle for him to again reinforce his credentials to his “greenbelt” fanbase in readying for the election campaign in May .

The first thing to reiterate about this fabled land classification (and who made it?), is that it remains in the ownership of a tiny number of people. IT DOES NOT “BELONG” TO THE PEOPLE WHO CROW TO SAVE IT! THEY DO NOT HOLD THE FREEHOLD INTEREST AND IT ISN’T “OURS”.  It is an antiquated system of protecting the rural elite; and today serves as a cash cow for those who play at farming by sticking a few random animals on a piece of land to milk the subsidies they can get from doing it. This is now being challenged like never before with the vile meat and dairy industry under threat by people giving up meat. We do not need these industries anymore, but like the days of The Great Reform Act, there are those who profit from this lifestyle who will not let it go easily.

Streets wider statements about it being an “easy option” to build on greenbelt being taken “too many times”, are just simply untrue,and not statistically accurate- especially given the fact that the report itself states that no “greenbelt” has yet been “given up”. When making such dishonest statements, he does so largely because he can rely on his Tory fan base to quickly become outraged and start a letter writing campaign to the E/S where they will always be given a very sympathetic voice; where do the Graham family of MNA media who run the star actually live I wonder, as well as their editor and senior executives.  😕 

But soft, for what is this. Tonka appears in The Express and Star suddenly supporting the building of 14 properties located off Lower City Road and Dudley Road East in Tividale.


“WILL BE”- Did I miss the planning application process, or is this no longer required Mr Street

This site is the first of those promoted in the Dudley Port supplementary planning document to be put forward for housing. as part of the ludicrous “Dudley Port Garden City” that was touted with much vigour a few years ago, then quietly appeared to have been forgotten. There are things to be said about this which I have raised previously.

  • Firstly the area is NOT IN DUDLEY PORT
  • Anyone who supports the “Garden City” agenda is totally ignorant of the insidious capitalist Quaker scum who invented and promoted it for their eugenicist aims. This cult of liberal freaks are and have always been a danger to society, and their so called “think tanks” and “foundations” today still attempt to sway the political debate on the names of long dead chocolate making parasites. There is nothing altruistic about “Garden Cities”, and any politician who backs them is seriously misguided, or part of the insidious separatist  “society of friends” themselves.
  • Dudley Port and the area between Tipton and Oldbury is greatly underprivileged, riddled with rising crime and lack of open space. It appears to be a target for those who want to cash in the long held landbanking plots of land that were all for some unknown reason registered to companies based in the tax avoidance haven of Jersey.
  • Street himself claimed when I questioned him at an “ask Andy” event that he was against such tax haven societies cashing in on house building from off shore.
  • He states that “it is great to have a waterside home”  😆 Would he himself care to live in such a place, and perhaps swap the 5 bedroom , two bathroom converted Mill he has a shared ownership with Conservative MP Michael Fabricant in Wales? (at least on the electoral register to 2014) There are rumours he owns more property, but I doubt if this one would ever be one he would want to live in himself.

He appears totally and embarrassingly for him unaware of the previous history and development history of this site.

The history of this site is very dubious indeed.

Firstly the application itself offers no assessment of contamination threat, which if you are wise to this blog you will know well as to the phosphorus contaminated boat traffic that went right past this site. 

It is clear that the use of this site is not very well defined, which is surprising given that in the application it is claimed to have been in the family ownership for “three generations”.

Historic pictures show in 1965 that it appears to have been some form of automotive scrapyard, and there are plenty of contamination threats with those!

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. NB application site is to the left of this and shows an effective dumping yard full of old tyres.

The other thing to note about this site is its location in history on Albright and Wilson’s toxic trail of carrying waste to both The Gower Tip, located almost on the other side of the canal, as well as Rattlechain.

It is clear to see the contamination caused to the whole canal system where the Alfred Matty boats went, as well as farther afield in The Netherton tunnel. There is more than suspicion, that early on in this operation that those manning these boasts let out this waste along the canal to save time, and the accounts of phosphorus waste where it should never have even been back this theory up well.

This dumped waste  material itself, white phosphorus, poses a very real systemic poisoning effect, as demonstrated in the deaths of birds at Rattlechain lagoon– waste that was dumped via these barges that had been there for decades and did not just conveniently disappear with time.

Note, the picture below shows this waste being carried via the Gower Brades Locks, with Fisher’s bridge in the background, and the application site to the left of the boat.

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

The Gower Tip itself has of course seen some very dubious recent activity, and there is little doubt that the “garden city” scheme is fully behind this latter day too late operation that is now progressing on this site- AFTER HOMES HAD BEEN GIVEN APPROVAL FOR FUCKS SAKE!

These sites are not linkable at all.

“improved access to the two portions of the site is key to bringing forward development. in line with the garden city principles any scheme must look to provide new green streets / linkages, social spaces and sustainable / energy efficient design.”

“the severed / isolated nature of the sites presents the most significant issue to the development of the site in terms of access.”

It should be noted that this is not the first time that this site has been touted for housing, and it is important to note that Sandwell council previously rejected the application in 2005!

| REF DC/ 05/44925 Residential development (outline). | Land At The Junction Of Lower City Road And Dudley Road East Oldbury West Midlands.

N.B It is interesting to see the reasons for this refusal, and note the location and “poor air quality” being the most prominent.

It was reported that comments from the contaminated land team said that the site had “a long industrial heritage, and notes the close proximity of the nearby landfill sites, Gower Tip, Monks Tip and possibly Rattlechain! They said that a site investigation and risk assessment and remediation report would be necessary.

“a poor environment for future residents,”

I do not see how these aspects are overcome in this repeat from the same  application address, and note the earlier 2005 refusal reasons. No contamination survey has been provided and no assessment of site risk either.

On the matter of ownership of this site, having accessed the land registry records for this site, and here’s the evidence for the non tax haven liking Mayor Street, here are the details.

WM89940 LAND ON THE SOUTH EAST SIDE OF City Road Tividale Oldbury

WOODCOTE INVESTMENTS LIMITED (incorporated in Jersey) of Rathbone House, 15 Esplanade, St Helier, Jersey, JE1 1RB. (from 1977)

No mention of this on the application, where “Woodcote” are located at the farm address in the 2005 refused application.

I am aware that there may well be some direct connection here with the Tividale land lord trickster Sydney Sheldon, who no sooner had he gained planning permission to extend his dubious brickworks facility, promptly started to sell off many pieces of land around it, and finally the works itself. The other thing associated with the Chelmarsh conman, aside from his criminality and brushes with the law, are that many of his sites during his ownership of them appear to be associated with illegal and illicit fly tipping of dangerous chemicals. Funny old thing that, was he the innocent victim of owning land and being tipped upon, or was it more the case that he was turning a blind eye whilst filling his pockets?

It therefore concerns me that this particular site, if ever owned by Sheldon or his descendants has not been tested for any contamination.

In more recent times, I have noted my own observations about activity on this site. I well remember that nearest to the bridge and the canal, the area was very marshy and still supported a range of reedbed and aquatic growth. Here are a full set of historic google Earth images from 1999- 2019 which track the evidential changes on this site. CLICK ON EACH TO VIEW IN MORE DETAIL. It is clear to see that the site has visibly lost the greenery it had in 1999 and that a building in the centre – (what industrial use did this have?) has been demolished. TAKE NOTE- The most important of these occur between 2013 and 2016, and I will discuss these below. 













One can clearly see that between the picture taken in June 2013 and the picture taken in April 2016 that some infilling activity had taken place, in fact the evidence of the tipper truck, gravel and bulldozer are clearly in the April 2016 picture, yet none of this is mentioned in the application. WHY?

Who carried out this work?

I remember this taking place at the time, as well as the work on the lock flight which is also evident in the picture. It was  an absolute bloody cowboy job and  created the dubious gravel base that appears today. Was any planning application for this necessary and what if any wildlife site surveys took place, regards the bank adjacent to Dudley Road East?

Not long after this I also noted the arrival of what appeared to be industrial waste containing building and demolition wastes dumped right next to the pile of gravel on 17th September 2016 . I reported this to the Environment Agency at the time, as I feared an illicit transfer station was in the offing, without any formal approval.

Two piles of domestic waste left next to the pile of gravel that had been used earlier in the year.

Did the land owners give permission for this to be dumped here?

This waste was removed, but there are still remnants of the gravel pile and with the marshy area still likely underneath this, this recently disguised dumped gravel surface, together with the lack of any scrutiny of contamination from materials that would attack built foundations like sulphurous and phosphatic wastes carried in the Albright and Wilson waste stream, how can SMBC building regulations possibly approve this scheme? Certainly without such contamination surveys, I do not see how this is possible. Any phosphorus waste buried underneath this site and kept artificially removed from oxygen would spontaneously combust releasing toxic gases when disturbed. In contact with water, this would produce phosphoric acid, and another source of contamination into the air and water.

Further to this, and importantly also omitted from the application is another detail which needs some investigation. On 15th December 2017 I took this photo of a formal notice that had been pinned to the entrance of the site in Lower City Road. This appears to be from an environmental consultancy, Adler and Allan requesting that the owner of the site get in contact with a view to installing boreholes on the site for a site investigation. The purpose of this, so the letter stated was as a result of “an environmental incident in the area.”

There are clear question marks as to what this incident was, (arising or thought to be arising from this site?), or if the owner gave permission for this investigation to take place. If so, why have they not been included with the application, and I think that SMBC should request them to give details on this matter to have any confidence that this site does not pose a threat to controlled waters of the Birmingham Canal. It is clear that the cowboy recently formed “bund” to the canal is not stopping anything that could leach from this site into the canal. The quality of the infill is clearly very poor and dubious to support built foundations, and gives low confidence that contamination would not occur into the canal, especially without any survey even being carried out!

Having seen first-hand the full horrors of the Albright and Wilson shambolic operations and that some of the boat waste carriers appearing to have “lost” some of the waste as they were going along, I have to say that until such time as a full site investigation, to the foundations of the sludgy canal material has been determined, that this site is unsafe for built development. Evidence of wider contamination from this waste source along this canal is evidentially clear from past reports.


The recently published draft air quality action plan strategy from SMBC also notes the following points in regard to its much heralded  “2030 ambitions”.

Particularly relevant to this application is ambition 7. “The AQAP will encourage consideration of air quality issues at the planning stage of new residential developments to ensure that there is no conflict with other ambitions.”

Given the previous observations about this rejected application site and the dire problems of the adjacent road, I do no possibly see how this application site overcomes this issue at the planning stage. The comments made by the planning officer in rejection of this application in 2005 are quite correct, but the same applicant has still not addressed any of these issues. This site would be more suited to industrial use, in keeping with the properties surrounding it.

Having seen first hand the contamination following built developments in very close proximity to water courses like this, the effects on wildfowl and fish receptors, and especially the ignorance and incompetence of The Environment Agency to stop or even investigate these properly, I am afraid that any subsequent assessments of this site without a full site investigation must be refused.

So unfortunately for Mr Street he appears to be an appearances Mayor who welcomes built development on a site that has very little going for it, except it is “brownfield” status. He also sidles up to the worst polluters of industry such as Severn Trent Water- who flogged off their unremediated site at Friar Park recently using the devolved power cash. Meanwhile Tory party donor Jeremy Knight Adams continues to want to build a retail development on The Lion Farm playing fields. Such sites when not scrutinised I am afraid are going to cause many problems in the future if they are built on, on the say so of just one uninformed man. Wildlife, sports clubs who have “got no ground”, and local black country people can all it seems go to hell, because they have “got no fans” with team Tonka.

Perhaps his non league football stunt double would make a better choice for West midlands Mayor.   😆


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Happy New Year! Your Alternative toxic calendar is here.

“Le stinky.”

The alternative to Solvay’s 2020 calendar which they annually distribute around the fall out zone of their COMAH Top tier hazardous site. 

Free to download.

2020 toxic calendar

Don’t forget,

The information contained in this calendar is important- please keep it in a *safe place *(preferably not in Oldbury).  😆



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Albright’s toxic archives #23 Shaving with DEATH

It was certainly the case with their political and civic society “friends” , that the Albright and Wilson families and their company could buy anything or anyone that they wanted in the early part of the Twentieth Century. 

This is another example of one of their hapless workforce , who worked with the deadly threat of white phosphorus, in a time when health and safety did not exist, being screwed over by the society of friends from Trinity Street B69.

From 7th February 1933 the article from The Birmingham Daily Gazette, we hear the tragic story of James Walters.

Walters had worked for the company for 32 years, into his seventies, but had obviously had tooth trouble as a direct result of his work with phosphorus.

The Langley resident had felt a pain under his left ear (jaw). He cut himself whilst shaving and a swelling developed.

The doctors opinion (shit doctor) claimed that there was no infection from the teeth- yet of course how would he have found any if they had already been removed? The verdict was bullshit, and this man died of phosphorus poisoning and was probably suffering from phossy jaw, yet in the days before medical negligence solicitors, official blame being put on wealthy men employers was difficult to find.

We of course know that Albright and Wilson would later religiously spy on their workforce by forcing them to undertake tooth inspections to prevent litigation from direct phossy jaw issues. But over 40 years later after this mans death, the company medical “experts” were still lying about the dangers of P4 to their workforce, whilst making them the lab rat study subjects of their research. (Phosphorus necrosis  can only affect you if you have “weak or faulty teeth”. )  🙄 


Chemical industry paid liars.

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The red air of Oldbury turns blue

A historic General election revealed a very surprising result in the borough of Sandwell, where West Bromwich East, and West Bromwich West- where both Rattlechain lagoon and the Oldbury chemical factory reside, swapped hands to the Conservatives.

Sandwell has been Labour controlled for far too long and there have been many things wrong here for a very long time. Cronyism and nepotism are by-words for the borough.

From my own personal observations, the political and union links with Albright and Wilson and the spewing phosphorus factory have done the people of the area no good at all- both in terms of their health, and particularly as I know, wildlife and the environment.

The voice for the community on these issues was poor with Adrian Bailey, former Labour MP for WBW, and far too often he appeared tailored in a white lab coat and accompanying safety specs appearing as Mr March in their distributed propaganda calendar and other photo opportunities, which the chemical conmen used to promote themselves as important in the community. I suppose it is a symbiotic relationship with holding such office and unfortunately, he probably felt obliged to because of the union backing dependent on so many from the Labour party and its funding.

A so called “residents group” which meets at Trinity Street really isn’t one at all, and the links of some of these people are clearly aligned directly to their own past links to this company and its financial success. I hear that not long ago to celebrate the 150th meeting, they baked a cake.  😆 Albright and Wilson/Rhodia and Solvay still provide Christmas lights in Langley, and the links with the Sandwell socialists are clearly deep.

But these people have always been out of touch, and as the uncontrolled release of phosphine gas event of 2009 proved, the statements and plans made by the company concerned were shown to be absolute garbage when they failed to even sound the toxic gas alarm. I had to go to great lengths to obtain this information under the FOIA , and it was quite clear that the regulator is on their side and not the communities. The contempt for the community by the company could not be more clear, but the elected political voice at the time was deafening in its silence, and not a word of ANY condemnation AFTER they had been convicted and fined by The Health and Safety Executive for putting people at risk from their inactions and incompetence.

We also have a situation where a number of the employees and now ex employees at Trinity Street are elected members in Dudley and Walsall councils. These people backed remain in the referendum, and were out of touch with the pro leave area. The CEO of Rhodia, ex French civil servant Jean Pierre Clamadieu has previously written letters about “the European project” and fear of losing it , which must hint that Belgian based Solvay’s activities in the UK would be under threat if the UK left the EU. Of course, that is now going to happen, and so it will be interesting to see if  this “threat”- (actually not a threat but salvation for Oldbury), results in  “the last 5 years” of Solvay in the UK, and more importantly, the end of this phosphorus polluting shithole opened around 1851. I really do hope that it is, as it is quite apparent that they have been dropping process plants and staff for some time. 

I have blogged previously about the appalling lobby industry which exists in Brussels within the EU from the European chemicals industry CEFIC, of which Mr Clamadieu has always been a big face. This is certainly the case with glyphosate. And then there are the “scientists for the EU” and “Business Europe” front groups who also believe it is Britain’s place to remain under EU control, against the will of the people where they believe that “populism” is somehow not an expression of democracy or a democratic vote, but an evil which needs to be quelled. Of course, it is the loss of the result which did not go their own way that these people just cannot come to terms with, and so their “educated” and enlightened viewpoint trumps all.

I do hope the new MP for West Bromwich West, also called Bailey, perhaps reflects on a few of these points before donning the customary white coat when invited on a tour of the factory, where he will be fed all types of bullshit about health and safety , and how important the company is to the area as an employer and in the world. Perhaps a little scepticism, a few awkward questions, a little research on white phosphorus and the evil in the world that it has caused within his new constituency by the new Conservative would be a welcome change to what has gone before. We also hope that he will not support the building of more houses next to a dangerous hazardous waste site. We hold our breath in anticipation of change and not more of the same red mist of promotional ambivalence to environmental and health issues affecting local people and wildlife. Please do not let us down. 





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