Albright’s toxic archives #14 -Chlorine gassed

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

British soldiers were gassed with chlorine

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



Concerning the toxicological overview they state the following.

“Summary of Health Effects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


A plan of the storage area is shown below.

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

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

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

Chlorine storage area shown in green

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

The production of phosphorus trichloride and oxychloride is explained.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

All quiet on the Western Road front?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oldbury finally did get rid of its TOM.LOL

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Explosive plans



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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

The explosives concerned were Nitroguinadine and pentolite.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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HS/040- What local residents need to know

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

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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

The application form can be downloaded below.



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

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

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

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


One notes from this

“Health effects of acute exposure

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

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

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


Oh dear, oh dear!

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

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

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

picture Express and Star

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


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


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


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

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

Just another flammable risk to local residents then.


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


Here are the key facts

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

Oh well we can all go blonde as well as blind



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


Lovely jubbly

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


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



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

A site location plan




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


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


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



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



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

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

This is what the HSE found in their report.


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


In addition, they

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



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

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


Incredibly in their application, Tom Dutton states

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

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

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

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

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

But what of Sandwell council’s “vision”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The new Solvay Hazardous Substance consent mystery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dirty business as usual

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

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

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

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



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

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

New homes in the shadow of a COMAH SITE

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West Midlands cyanide dumping#2 The rattlechain cyanide!


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why “should” and not would?

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

NaCN + H2O ⇄ NaOH + HCN

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sodium/Potassium Cyanide General information.

Sodium/Potassium Cyanide Incident management.

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

The front page of The Daily Mirror 25th February 1972

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

A few things emerge from this first article.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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A chain reaction?


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Take it away Diana……………….


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The lorry fire on route to rattlechain

I have previously outlined how “the toxic trail” formerly delivered phosphorus contaminated waste, as well as barrels of waste from the Albright and Wilson factory in Trinity Street. In the previous post, I also outlined how this had affected the canal network further afield. When this hazardous and environmentally damaging practice finally appeared to cease around 1974, the operation to deposit toxic and harmful hazardous material from the same source simply continued via road haulage. It also appears evidentially that this practice had been going on at the site on an ad hoc basis right from the start of tipping there however.

The nature of the material- still apparently containing white phosphorus AFTER the company had claimed that phosphorus production had discontinued at their factory  site, shows that this was a mute red herring. WHITE PHOSPHORUS WAS CLEARLY STILL BEING TIPPED AT RATTLECHAIN LAGOON.

The article below appeared in the May 16th 1976 edition of the Sandwell Evening Mail. It details how a barrel of phosphorus had caught fire en route to a “Tividale tip”.


The text isn’t very clear I’m afraid but I’ve typed the whole piece below and then I will make comment on some interesting quotes and claims within it.


Sandwell Mail Reporter.

An official enquiry has been launched into the incident in which highly combustible phosphorus waste caught fire in Oldbury while being transported by open lorry to a tip.

A full scale police and fire brigade alert was started when a 40 gallon drum containing the waste burst into flames. It was being driven through Oldbury to a Tividale tip from the Langley works of chemical manufacturers Albright and Wilson Ltd.

Mr Ken Harvey the county council’s waste disposal officer said “I would not consider this a satisfactory method of transporting such materials.

I am aware of the Albright and Wilson waste tipping operations but I am not aware that waste is being handled in this manner.

We intend to pursue this matter through discussions with the company because after this incident one must accept that present transportation arrangements are not entirely satisfactory.

Sentro waste disposal officers were sent to the scene of the incident in Shidas Lane, Oldbury.


There they met fire officers and safety officials from the company who had earlier used special fire fighting equipment in the blaze.

Mr Harvey said the firm had laid down procedures for transporting such materials.

It is normally regarded as safe to move such materials in sealed drums as Albright’s were doing, but the incident has highlighted a weakness in the rather loose legislation which exists,” he said.

We don’t have the power to impose conditions on companies moving their waste and we have only limited power controlling disposal of wastes.


“But under new legislation to take effect,  sites like the Tividale one will have to be licensed with councils and comply with stringent conditions on tipping and type of materials.”

Mr Harvey said inquiries had indicated there were a number of factors which had led to yesterday’s incident.

They would be discussing it with the firm to see if a more satisfactory method of transporting wastes could be found.

The companies divisional secretary Mr Raymond Woodhead said the material concerned was completely safe as long as it was not exposed to air.


They were carrying out a full investigation to see how and why the drum ignited.

“This material is no more dangerous than thousands of other substances carried by road every day- in fact it is no more dangerous than a petrol tanker or a private car , and when it is dumped underground it remains safe, ” he said. “

The first alarming statement in this article is that it appears to suggest that this highly flammable and toxic material was being carried in a “open lorry”.

The “Tividale tip” is not named, though the mention of Shidas Lane is interesting. Of course it was going to rattlechain, but this appears to suggest the route being taken from Trinity Street. The council’s refuse tip is located in Shidas Lane, as was the Apollo Lagoon owned by Accles and Pollock- but neither of these are in Tividale, and would not be used for phosphorus waste disposal in any case. This shows that this 40 gallon drum had not got very far from the works before setting on fire- threatening not only the driver but anyone breathing in the load of gassing venom en route.

The pictured barrels are identical to those I have seen deposited in the lagoon, and it is consistent with documented evidence of the fact that these barrels were simply “rolled into” the lagoon or even “sunk by rifle fire” on pallets!

Limited PPE is being worn but the gauntlets and spades indicate that they were fully aware of the hazard involved- something not afforded to any member of the public caught up at the scene- let alone any unfortunate wildlife in the wet tip!


I am fully aware of this useless bloody idiot and his role at the county council not being fit for purpose.

“I would not consider this a satisfactory method of transporting such materials. “- no shit Sherlock but do you therefore consider it satisfactory to simply dump it in the open air just a mile down the road?

He then blames “loose legislation” which in some aspects is probably true, but at this point in history the deposit of poisonous wastes act 1972 had been passed, as well as the Control of Pollution Act 1974– so implementation was entirely on his watch.

That he considered such transport as “safe” is part of the problem, though like all apologists, he points to something in the future down the line that will somehow wave a magic wand and make it all “safer” still- this of course implies the site licensing that he and others approved of and would become waste disposal licence SL31 passed in January 1978.

“stringent conditions on tipping and type of materials”- The main criticism of his approved licence under his watch and the fools who approved the licence was that it did nothing of the sort and was completely vague- and still allowed the deposit of the same toxic hazardous waste- that no doubt was still being considered “safe” when dumped under water.

Raymond Woodhead.

His name appears in frequent Albright and Wilson correspondence at this time- and the site licence application. Like all other Albright and Wilson officials he is a liar with several statements in this article. It is not and never will be “safe” unless exposed to air. This absolute rot implies they were unaware of their Long Harbour pollution fiasco and the environmental disaster this release caused in and under waterLIAR WOODHEAD.

Comparing this material’s transport to a petrol tanker or car is another red herring , but not dissimilar from what other works managers like the liar Peter Bloore would state about “toothpaste” and calcium phosphate in the waste at Rattlechain. Liars of the chemical industry thrive on attempting to downplay their activities and harmful substances by attempting to compare them to mundane and “harmless” materials- as do so called “environmental consultants” attempting to gloss over contaminated land for that matter.

“and when it is dumped underground it remains safe, ” he said. “

Of all the idiotic statements this one really does take the piss. Is he stating here that this material was not only being dumped into rattlechain, but also into the “disused” mineshafts that mysteriously his deceitful company appeared to know little about?

What about groundwater? What about wildlife and the soil being poisoned? What about the toxicity of white phosphorus and its toxic breakdown products systemically damaging to human health ?

I have no doubt that once all the nasty stuff had been scooped up and put into another barrel under water it would soon have been allowed on its way to rattlechain without further delay to poison the birds there.



I have looked in detail about the waste disposal license approval and what happened next HERE.

Nothing changed in the matter of barrels being dumped- as another fire incident at the site demonstrated in 1989. Once again we see vagueness from local officials, promises of investigations and looking to the future from the company.

Once I came on the scene in 1999 and started reporting just how damaging the practice of depositing waste at this site was, they once again just employed the same deliberate lies and deceptions about the “safety” of the chemicals under water.

They now continue in the same vein with their “geotextile membrane” and sand and crushed brick burial under water, as the gas beneath rises to the surface.

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