Albright’s toxic archives #26 Phosphine under pressure

 

There has of course been a long standing “wind” problem at the much troubled Trinity Street factory. Bad gas – or more succinctly Toxic gas appears to have a nasty historic habit of escaping from the Albright anus of PO BOX 80. I detailed one such incident from 1969 involving phosphine release at this site. 

This article from 27 June 1988 from The Sandwell Evening Mail reveals more troubling information about phosphine gas escaping. This was put down to “a pressure surge in a reactor”  which allowed the gas to escape, instantly catching fire when exposed to air.

There are some observations to be made about this. This is the same P1 production plant that resulted in the   2009 uncontrolled release of phosphine gas which led to a far more serious incident.   There is absolutely no mention at all of this 1988 incident in the official HSE report and investigation where Rhodia’s cut and shut “rodder” assembly failed, as explained below.

One wonders on how many occasions before this event that there had been “pressure surges” in this apparatus, and why management had not acted upon it, or even if they had covered them up when their bonuses were directly linked to environmental and safety performances?  😕

Mention of the exact incident which appears to have occurred below is even mentioned in the 1980 planning application Ref DC/10316 for the P1 plant.

 

“A water seal tank , 0.6m3 capacity , serves both the convertor and the reactor to prevent overpressurisation of the equipment. This occurrence should be rare. If it does happen, phosphine would be emitted at this point where it would be expected to catch fire.”

I have looked at the historic production of phosphine and the installation of this 1st plant HERE.

The second is that Solvay  applied for an increase in pressure of phosphine gas in their hazardous substance consent HS/040 which appears to have been shelved?

Thirdly this is one of MANY incidents under the stewardship of “Dr” Peter Bloore, and as will be revealed in several future posts, his management during his time as works manager at Trinity Street was an absolute catalogue of environmental disasters and health and safety shams.

Below, from evidence presented by Rhodia to the HSE regards the Albright and Wilson built phosphine no 1 plant fire 21 years later. YOU BLOODY LIAR BLOORE! But just a reflection of the company he worked for.

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Albright’s toxic archives #25 – Oldbury’s Firemen Shams- not Albright on the night.

Much has been made and still continues to be about the firefighting practice that the Trinity Street factory is prepared for with their own “fire service”, and also their alleged collaboration with the full time professionals, yet when it has really hit the fan, such as the uncontrolled release and fire involving phosphine gas, this was revealed to be a complete smokescreen, and a very worrying trend for those living in the shadow of the Trinity Street Top Tier COMAH site.

What a load of bullocks!

 

Historically much of the time, it appears that this volunteer works brigade ponced about in emergency worker wannabe attire having competitions with other works brigades in wacky races on sports fields. They were also not averse to deliberately starting  fires using toxic white phosphorus, such as this picture from Albright World demonstrated when they went to Rattlechain lagoon for an experiment.

Controlled conditions outside?  And against the conditions of the waste management licence! And where did the contaminated waste and raked ground from this go I wonder?

 

This Bonfire night post offering from The Sandwell Evening Mail from 14th February 1986 shows another total farcical situation involving the absent Albright part timers, who were not on site at the time of a real fire at their COMAH Top Tier chemical factory, which at this point in time still had chlorine and phosphorus delivered by train into the works.  They were instead watching a fire fighting video at Oldbury fire station. 😆 You really could not make this shit up.

“Coincidence”. They only had two jobs.

 

See the source image

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The Environment Agency- Licensed to spill, but also to Kill?

 

We live in very dangerous times, and the state police now appear to be everywhere watching our every move.

A new piece of legislation, “The Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill” has gained large condemnation from civil rights campaigners and activists involved in campaigning against things which Governments such as the one that we now unfortunately have support or want to push through without due scrutiny, debate or legal sanction. The arguments and background are put forward in this Guardian article. 

“Covert intelligence can be authorised to “prevent disorder” and to promote “the interests of economic wellbeing of the UK” as well as to protect national security.”

But this list does not just apply to MI5 and the security services or even just plod. It encompasses a wide range of authorities and quangos, who would if this Bill becomes law, be given unprecedented powers to spy and acquire information from Joe public. Quite why some of these are on the list is baffling, as are the powers that they would be able to have. This BBC piece lists the agencies, and one in particular I find very intriguing.

 

I am baffled as to what criminal actions that the EA would be sanctioned to undertake. Perhaps as the biggest polluter to the environment in the country, this law is to avoid them being criminally liable for such, or perhaps attempting to make them immune from civil litigation regards their disastrous flood alleviation scheme failures?

Are the EA operatives going to be encouraged to sleep with waste tippers or have affairs with their wives in order to get to the nitty gritty as to what they are hiding in their dirty drawers?

Or are these soldiers of the state really being seconded to spy on the public, those who object to planning applications, those who defend ancient woodlands from the scum of HS2 Limited, and of course those who ask questions about “what’s in my backyard” , that they already appear to have obfuscated material from. Can the EA now just lie that they do not hold any Environmental Information , even when they do in FOI requests? The use of such undercover agents has been used before to gain information about environmental protest groups, and animal rights activists, as this excellent expose reveals, to devastating consequences for those who trusted these agents of the state. The Metropolitan Police unleashed sexual predators who manipulated and coercively controlled several women and had to pay them compensation. .

Could the same tactics now be made lawful, and for a range of other agencies like the EA? And how far for Queen Lizzy and country are they sanctioned to go to protect esoteric civil service information? Murder?  🙁

Of course conversely, it could be the case that industrial plants have been placed inside the EA or even criminals to water down environmental protection. You would certainly think so from the things that I have seen and heard about.  😉  Send in AC-12 to root em out.

So to any environmental campaigners out there, this Halloween or going forward in these dystopian times, watch out in case the EA’s stealthy assassins are waiting to get you with pointy tits underneath the high vis, or hiding a sharp dagger or cutting tool concealed in podgy chest waders……I’m sure they are very well trained  😆

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The Environment Agency- Erasing the wastes of history

 

The document below is a must read for anyone who lives next to or had their homes built on a historic landfill site. Unfortunately, what you will read in the file has probably already been deleted by the powers that be before it was published. Special thanks must go to Dan for sending me this, and it is an interesting read.

Processed-historic-landfill-sites-1

The Excel file shows information that The Environment Agency claim to hold on these blighted sites, yet it is clear that the information is very limited and in some instances I have observed , not even correct. It is the omissions however that I find most sinister, as this information is presumably used to prepare the agencies response to planning applications where they are a statutory consultee, but the information about the sites is wafer thin- most notably on the types and quantities of waste that were deposited.

The following is a rough guide to the list, and I do not profess to know what all of it means, as it appears to have been compiled esoterically to keep it that way.

The rows and cells list the waste sites; there are thousands of them in England and Wales listed.

I have no idea what “srsname” and “srs dimension” mean in cells A and B. The same nonsensical numbers are contained in columns C and D for “lower corner” and “upper corner”. Why this guff is there I do not know, but it is irrelevant to any of the sites themselves. Thus from the start, the list is largely illegible and designed to be off-putting.

Cells E and F also appear to be an unknown code, and G what appears to be an Environment Agency reference number for the site. Only at column H do we get something decipherable in the actual site name, though as can be seen, the detail to anyone not knowing where this refers to would be equally unintelligible.

Column I contains some more location detail, though most of these in the file are blank. No postcodes are contained , making it difficult to identify the site easily.

Column J is Environment Agency Waste management licence Reference? K registration number? L Waste Management catalogue reference? M bgs number- not a clue. N is the first real important clue as it reveals the name of the site licence number. Many of the West Midlands County Council SL numbers are contained here, and this has helped me find several that I was unaware of, which I am adding to my DOOMWATCH list. There are also the renumbered West Midland hazardous waste unit numbers, and the EA renumbered permits. Many however are inexplicably missing, as will be demonstrated further on in this post. 

N reveals the licence holder, a company or a person, but again, may of these are blank, and the EA DO hold this basic information , yet why is it omitted here? Could it be that liability for “the polluter pays” has been removed because of cases such as those in Walsall? P gives more detail as to the licence holder’s address, though again, much of these details are blank.

Q gives the site operator name, and again the blanks are noted. R a space for more information about these.

S is the ordnance survey prefix, T the Easting reading, U the Northing reading. V is the Environment Agency regional area, for example MI appears to indicate Midlands. W is the EA area within their regional operation.

Column X is an important one as it indicates the date on which the site licence was legally issued. In the example above, this was 5th May 1989. Y indicates when the licence was legally surrendered, in the case above 4th February 1999. Column Z indicates the date when waste was first inputted into the site, and AA the last waste dumped there before licence surrender.

The next set of information relates to waste types that were dumped on site. This is of course the most important information, but one can see that it is largely missing, and does not give the detail needed for people to be able to find out what types of chemicals were deposited. AB stands for inert waste. B Industrial waste, C household waste, D “special waste”, and AG liquid sludge. The classification of what these categories mean has changed over time just to add more difficulty in knowing exactly what was dumped there.

AH perhaps stands for “Waste unknown” ? AH I would guess relates to gas control measures having been put in place, usually a condition of licence surrender if methane or carbon dioxide is being evolved which may take the form of a “gas vent barrier”. AJ I believe is leachate control measures, if a site is oozing out nasty liquids, as was the case with the Leigh Environmental company fiasco in Walsall. AK obviously relates to “exemption” , though I do not know what this relates to in context with site licensing. AL a licensed site? AM No licence required.

I do not know what “buff point” refers to at AN, and A0 and AP appear to give the shape in size of the site, though the units are missing, and could well have changed over time, of part of the site was transferred, as was the case at Rattlechain, before the licence was issued. AQ the same number as at the start of the list and AR another mystery.

Between AS and DM, a string of incomprehensible numbers appear, and I have no idea what these are.

EXAMPLES.

To demonstrate the abysmal gaps in this list, let’s look at two sites, the two tips as I refer to them as, Rattlechain Tip– i.e the lagoon, (Site licence SL31) and the phoney “Rattlechain TipSL947 , really the Duport’s tip- SL129 with a load more foundry sand crap accepted.

REAL RATTLECHAIN TIP

Real Rattlechain tip has much info missing! I would have thought that this notorious site, now known nationally as well as internationally as a the result of this website’s exposure cannot have escaped the EA’s attention- especially when the the EA as part of the now defunct CHaIRS group raised the matter of wildfowl being poisoned at several of their clandestine meetings, which I revealed through FOI requests. How can they claim to know so little? I know they hold the site licence, they supplied me with it. 🙄 A parliamentary question was asked which referenced the licence, so the civil service and Parliament are aware of the licence. So , WHO ERASED THE INFORMATION OR FAILED TO INPUT IT ONTO THIS LIST, AND FOR WHAT SINISTER PURPOSE? 

The lagoon appears at number 1512 on the list.

We get the actual correct address at column I.

But this is I am afraid where someone hit the delete button. No more detail on the site licence detail, SL31 and the renumbered WMHWU number 644/60 and subsequent EA permit number, WML 40803 respectively.

Missing basic info, if they cannot even give the site licence number, what are they trying to hide?

They also fail to name the site operator and licence holder, of course Albright and Wilson appear to have slipped their attention, and then of course “Rhodia Limited” did too!

More blanks in the 1512 column.

 

They actually do manage to give the EA region and area, which of course they must know, and also the OS number.

But once again, any legitimate info about the licence, such as when it was issued is omitted. This, as the EA do know was issued on 23rd January 1978. They also know, because they supplied me with the FOI request, as to when the last input of waste was added ! The waste was special waste, industrial and also contained liquid sludge.

There appear to be some very accurate, at least in terms of what they claim to be the shape and size of the site. So how if this detail is known to them, are the key facts about the licence supposedly not?

On the former EA website What’s in your backyard, this is a screenshot I took of what it then gave as the basic facts about real rattlechain tip, though it should be pointed out, they had at this time removed the detail about what toxic waste like white phosphorus had been dumped in there, replacing this with the obscure “factory waste curtilage”- which could of course refer to anything. THUS I THINK THAT WE CAN SEE HERE, A CLEAR METHODOLOGY TO BEGIN TO ERASE THE RECORDS THAT THEY HELD, AND REPLACE THEM WITH FIRST OBSCURITY, AND THEN DELIBERATE ERASER ALTOGETHER. 

FAKE RATTLECHAIN TIP

The Mintworth fiasco “rattlechain tip” is logged at 1561 on this list.

 

The address is given at Tipton Road Tividale.

Phoney rattlechain does not have any information as to who the site operator or address is.

The EA give details of the area once again and the OS number.

But also omitted is any detail of the site licence SL947. FROM THE INFORMATION WHICH THE EA SUPPLIED ME WITH, IE THE LICENCE IN AN FOI REQUEST, you can see that the date of issue was 23rd November 1992.

The EA therefore have this information, as well as all the modifications, as well as being able to tell me that the licence was never surrendered, only absolved with the phoney deception of “Mintworth Quays” going into voluntary liquidation- I would state for the very purpose of dodging having to surrender this licence. 

The gas control measures consisted of the vent trench and the shite Christmas trees around the site perimeter, a longstanding argument between the EA and Mintworth’s consultants who thought that they knew better than the regulator, which extended the ludicrous “reclamation” scheme still further . The waste- tonnes of despoiling black foundry sand that blighted people’s windows and cars for many years, as evidenced by people’s direct objections to the length of the schemes; a “misery” which can be read HERE,  as well as the crap from the sewage works development smeared into the workings on top of the Duport’s Tip foundations.

This is what the EA knew about this tip on the former What’s in my back yard website. Of course, not listed here are the considerable wastes that still remain in this Duport’s Tip, buried underneath the foundry sand, and exposed when a tatting operation for scrap metal was carried out ten years ago under the cover of heavy snow fall.  Someone obviously needed some money for debts very damn quick.  😆  😆  😆

So what stunt are the Environment Agency trying to pull here? And who in this organisation are deleting information from the public realm? Do they intend to leave the Environment Agency at some point and set themselves up as “environmental consultants” where they can act as bitches for developers, having already carried out “the groundwork” of getting rid of difficult histories associated with buried hazardous wastes out of the public domain?  It will obviously be put back into the public realm, by the likes of myself, and I would urge all environmental campaigners and those opposed to development in open spaces as well as health campaigners to keep a very close eye on what these dodgy civil servants are up to behind the scenes. 

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The Environment Agency- Unfit for purpose, but their predecessors were even worse!

 

Have you seen the Environment Agency dealing with a pollution incident in the last six months? From personal experience, I believe that they have gone Covid AWOL, and are now more concerned with deferring events onto private water companies and charities like The Canal and Rivers Trust.

As a rescuer of wildfowl for over 20 years now, I have never seen a year like it for repeat incidents of hydrocarbon pollution, of both industrial, marine craft, and unknown origin.

I detailed one such incident in February on our sister website Saveoursandwellcanadgeese.org.  This was a major operation where the voluntary sector had to work beyond their means to help dozens of birds affected when they lost the ability to waterproof themselves after becoming covered in diesel. On this occasion, despite frequent calls for feedback, the EA officer failed to respond at all, and so I was left with the highly implausible explanation from Severn Trent. Have you ever seen a diesel powered motorbike?  😯

“Re: Woden Road South pool

Thank you for your email regarding the diesel spoilage into the Woden Road South pool. I was very concerned to hear about the affect this had on the birds on the lake, and can appreciate how distressing this must have been.

The area technician has advised that we had three pollutions reported to us at this location within a week. The first one was a motorbike catching fire and the diesel entering the surface water system via the road gullies. We were unable to find anything for the other two incidents, as there was no evidence of any oil.”

Further incidents have followed this at several locations, but in the loony lockdown and subsequent period of nonsense since, it appears that those answering the EA 0800 number are “working from home”. Some of the reception on these calls has been bloody awful to the point of incomprehensible. The non attendance of the EA officers at the locations also means that the polluters are winning. And there is the longstanding issue of why they are able to attend incidents involving fish deaths but not bird deaths on a lake. Wildfowl are not economically viable to the environment agency obviously.  😥 

The EA have released last month their update of

State_of_the_environment_health_people_and_the_environment

and there is also their February 2018 published

State_of_the_environment_water_quality_report.

In the first report, Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency, makes the following admission,

“Too many towns and cities in England,
especially those with a strong industrial heritage, have too little green space, too few trees, culverted rivers, poor air quality and are at risk of flooding.”

But what she fails to recognise is that current Government policy of “brown field ” building is only going to make this situation even worse, with loss of green space derisively declassified as being “brownfield”. The inequalities she speaks of are those typical of middle class university educated academics who do not live or want to live in such areas. There is no “levelling up” of our areas. 

As to the main findings, The agency have now been in business for 24 years, and this is a very long time in the changes of political parties and the “bonfires of quangos” that have taken place. One could say therefore that in nearly a quarter of a century, this quango has been the authority lead on these matters, so why have they failed so spectacularly to “create a better place” in that time?

Everything appears to be increasing, but talk is still cheap.

 

The second report gives a totally disingenuous perspective on water pollution, and the failure of the EA to stop it.

percentages always hide and distort the truth

The biggest lie in this report is made concerning water pollution incidents, where the agency use their own failed criteria of classification , which I have looked at in depth HERE. To the EA gills are good, feathers are worthless. Their claims of pollution are a lie based on fish and not of bird pollution. The fact that birds died by the pollution of sites such as at Smethwick Hall park, which has yet to be rectified by Severn Trent Water’s faecal attack in 2019 doesn’t give much confidence that things have improved since the release of this report, and that the EA’s barometer of real pollution is skewed by economics.

Bullshit- both in terms of pollutant and in the summary of methodology of compiling these figures

But quite honestly when you look at the EA regulation of waste sites such as at Rattlechain, the polluters have been winning all along from the incompetence , negligence and stupidity shown by this useless quango.

The top observations I cite as evidence for this are

  • The inability of the EA to determine that the lagoon site was once a single pit and pool, AFTER waste tipping had begun. A smaller subsidiary lagoon was carved in 1961, from inside the main pit, in an effort to use this to pump water back to the canal. BUT THE EA BELIEVED THAT THIS WAS “CLEAN WATER” AND EVEN REFERED TO IT AS THE “CLEAN” SIDE LAGOON.” One example of this can be read HERE. 
  • The HPA tests for Rhodia in the joke HHRA actually confirmed that for years they had been allowing a pit heavily contaminated by white phosphorus to be pumped back into controlled waters!
  • Further to this from an FOI request, it is apparent that the EA could not test and did not test for white phosphorus in the water pumped to the canal.
  •  The EA frequently told Rhodia to “rake the sediment” below the water line, in an effort to prevent fires, as well as pointing out a string of other licence breaches,  yet they were apparently unaware that this banned rat poison was systemically poisoning birds at low depths. In doing this they helped to poison the birds every time that they asked for this to be done.
  • The inadequacy of EA managers and pollution control officers and knowledge in the field. One who claimed to me his university major was in zoology- “phosphine is marsh gas”– in reference to the highly toxic phosphine gas. Another who stated “phosphorus isn’t toxic, I’m a chemist, I did A-level chemistry.”  NB Both of these individuals transferred from the previous Walsall Council run West Midlands hazardous waste unit.
  • Inadequate advice on planning matters. When SMBC refused the application to build houses on the former sewage works site, that Severn Trent had flogged off,  they partially did so on the basis that the EA would offer no opinion on the safety or future safety from the Rattlechain lagoon after or during decommissioning scenarios. If these “experts” would not give an opinion then who else in the planning authority would be able to?

Fundamentally their failure to uphold the licence conditions is what makes them a failure as a regulator, despite many breaches which were reported and directly observed.

But these scenarios appear to have started long before 1995 with the creation of this money guzzling quango, and stretch way back to events from the West Midlands County Council in issuing vague and uselessly unenforceable site licences. Many of these should never have been issued at all and probably were because of the size of some company pocket books and blank cheques to dodgy characters in governance.

Of late of course, the EA have denied us the right to find out where these sites were, and what they and those before them allowed to be dumped, in conjunction with the desire by this Government to “build, build build” rampantly on these cancerous brownfield land areas. I have started a “doomwatch” site list of these West Midlands abominations, in the hope that people will ask questions again of “what’s in my back yard” , rather than just accepting the lie that everything is roses  because Boris and his fascistic goons and some bent environmental consultants said it would be.

I am updating this periodically, and the latest version with the SL site licence numbers can be found below.

SITE BLIGHT WMCC

To complement this, I have since been sent a link by an interesting contact regards what the EA claim to know about historic waste sites nationally.

Processed-historic-landfill-sites-1

It is quite clear from a cursory glance of this, and I will be doing a post on the layout and info contained in this next,  that there is a massive vacuum of information missing from this spread sheet, particularly of the actual chemicals dumped under the licences, which is of course, the only information worth knowing!

There is no doubt that this has been entirely orchestrated by the civil service and the political class to deny us this information, to assist crooked housing developers in their monetary gain, and to facilitate the building of houses on contaminated land. It is a disgrace that individuals and organisations have conspired to cover up and obfuscate this evidence of the past, in order for a few to acquire current financial gain. Thus when the chair of the EA in 2020 talks of “The Environment Agency works to speed up sustainable development by helping developers meet regulatory requirements efficiently, providing advice so they get it right first time” she really means that the EA have hidden away anything that prevents development that would slow it down, relaxed regulatory requirements as a result, and provided advice to get around any other problems like “what’s in your backyard”? 

One example of the corrupt planning system, and of developers who have cheated and defrauded people out of money can be found in Bradford.  This estate backs onto a former landfill site which emits toxic methane gas. The homes are worthless. Where were the safeguards here with this development?

If you go back to 1990 and the dire Environmental Protection Act (sic), it is clear that this legislation was deliberately watered down and doctored to make building on contaminated land easier and not more difficult. This is because of the flawed source-pathway-receptor ideal, in that if there is no “pathway”- that is one that the builders and their agents cannot envisage, then it is perfectly fine to connive a scheme for “shovel ready” building. But this is a false flag construct, and “pathways” are not the issue, the source and the contaminants are! It is a means of leaving past contamination in the ground forever, and as I have pointed out with Rattlechain before, the more houses you build around a site, the “human shields” ensure that it becomes more dangerous to ever deal with the issue, so it is just left there. 

An article from Planning magazine in this year of the legislation actually raises the concerns that I am stating as fact below. Yet unfortunately, the MP’s who wanted greater powers and regulation do not appear to have got their way with Thatcher and then Major’s piss poor Act.

 

With particular relevance to the article are the central quotations;

The MP’s are concerned that what they see as the main issues have not been addressed. “Little or no thought has been given to the big central questions. Who ought to pay to clean up contaminated sites- and how can they be made to do it? How can contamination be prevented? Should contaminated chemicals be destroyed, or is it enough to just cover them up? How clean is clean and how safe is “safe” enough?” 

These questions were never answered by the useless legislation that was enacted , and houses still are allowed to be built on contaminated land by covering up back gardens with 50cm of topsoil- such as those in Callaghan and Wilson Drives built by Barratt Homes. The chemicals are not destroyed, they remain underground.

Years of incompetence by people like Ken Harvey of the West Midlands County Council and his goons have left us with contaminated land where houses have been built, useless safeguards, and platitudes from politicians who have not got a bloody clue about how dire this base card foundation was. You cannot take the current EA information as any use for informed factual evidence about past contamination, and therefore if someone comes along and does some tests and finds nothing, how convenient that the historic information was removed to pave the way for this end use.

This is why I am calling for a full public inquiry into the integrity and competence of the former West Midlands County Council Waste Disposal authority and the former Walsall council hazardous waste unit.

There are questions to answer about their incompetence and failures to keep adequate records, uphold licences, and their lack of scientific knowledge in the field. Their relationships with companies and the ability for them to transfer employment from regulatory quangos to the polluters is another matter, of which I cite examples in Walsall here, and here

I have communicated all of the above as evidence in my submission on the Government’s abysmal white paper; a planning fraud  on “reforming the planning system” , only to the benefit of party political funding house building concerns- The Tory tuppers. The hinderance of deliberately removing historic information from the public domain on these landfill sites is entirely linked to this, and it is a disgrace; and the people who have been responsible for doing so are utterly corrupt in office.

The agency currently are only “creating a better place” for millionaires, the environment remains rancid.

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In search of Oldbury’s Incredible Bulks #1

One of my favourite TV shows as a kid was The Incredible Hulk- a story of a man with a secret who hid a monstrous creation of his own making, but travelled around from place to place picking up  casual jobs before leaving total devastation in his wake before moving on to the next set of disaster.

David Banner was the archetypal “hero”, a quiet scientist who turned into the Hulk when he became angry after having been exposed to gamma radiation- thus is the accepted narrative. But Banner was really an identity fraudster, a serial shagger and philanderer who brought total chaos every episode to those whose paths he crossed, before moving on and packing up his troubles with that old shoulder bag.

My hero was never Banner, and not Lou Ferrigno as the hulk- it was the journalist Jack McGee. Jack was always sure he was onto something and knew a good story when he saw one. No one dialled a telephone like Mr National Register , or gave out his card with such effortless panache, and his tenacity and cunning were legendary superpowers that should have led to his own spin off show- “Jack McGee investigates” perhaps.

and Chuck Norris’ aircraft carrier when he farted in his bath!

The audience knew he was always right, despite the clueless protagonists other than Banner rather stupidly carrying on thinking he was some crank. Mr McGee was no tin foil hat wearer. He knew that meddling scientists were the downfall of nature, and that by trying to change it brought catastrophic consequences. 

Go get him Jack! This even looks like Rattlechain . LOL

But Stan Lee, the co creator of the piece disappointed me every week, as my hero had to accept that the green meanie and his Dr Jekyll were always one step ahead in covering up their grubby tracks, before we saw Banner skulking off to the strains of the piano melody. Oh just once that Jack would collar the elusive Banner’s deception, but alas he was not given the opportunity- as that would have been the end of the show wouldn’t it really?  Jack never even got as much as his own action figure- for fucks sake!

But in honouring my fictional hero, it appears that I too have been on the trail for some time , sparing no expense with my investigative vigour, about a story involving a creature of toxic pollution of differing sorts- except this one is for real. It has been seen and spotted on numerous occasions in The Oldbury area, and in particular in Langley and Tividale, where it has a lair. 

But these are metaphorical hulks rather than a man- and one which involves chemical volatility- and you too would not like to make it angry if you came into contact with it when changing from state to state.

  • I have looked at “The Oldbury Smell”– a fiendish pussy , and The West Midlands own beast of Bodmin in olfactory form.
  • Outed British agent Alf Loveless of Albright and Wilson, who after touring the Nazi phosphorus war machine factories shortly after WW2 on behalf of the British Government, developed the new phosphorus furnaces at Oldbury and Portishead, no doubt informed by what he had seen there. Who said war didn’t pay for this “Quaker” company?
  • I have revealed the disgusting dumping of sulphuric acid on land scheduled for housing that became the Temple Way estate, house builders being aided and abetted by the authorities in the process.
  • Revealed the investigation report into Rhodia’s uncontrolled off site release of phosphine gas, when The Health and Safety Executive officers had deliberately attempted to obfuscate the report with redactions, and thus cover up embarrassment for their chemical industry mates.
  • And of course, the Rattlechain lagoon story itself and the white phosphorus poisoning of wildfowl by a banned rat poison, in tandem with a useless and incompetent regulation for decades.
  • How many former marl holes were infilled with chemical and demolition waste crap, which made tatters a fortune, and a misery for the poor buggers who lived there? These “incredible bulks” truly are a very dangerous legacy.

 Another hulk of Oldbury is a blue one and not a green one, which I will look at another time, which went by the name of “Billy”. But is there a Banner figure I ask myself that is in some strange way tied to the fate of all of these toxic piles and infilled lagoons? Did he move on from place to place apparently helping people with their issues and with a different job, shifting Oldbury’s blue hulk around him before moving onto another mess and creating another toxic legacy? Damn, I almost had it then…. I guess I’ll just have to keep on looking to get to the truth…..

 

 

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Memories of Rose Lane

 

Panoramic view from 1950 showing Rose Lane marked in red. To the left The Rattlechain brickworks and Rattlechain lagoon, the Tividale sewage works, and bottom left, The Vono Lagoon.

 

Chris Adams got in touch on reading recent posts about the area West of Rattlechain Lagoon off Rose Lane. She vividly recalls the agricultural land shown above, and fills out further information before it was turned into a vile tip. Here are her recollections.

“We used to ride up Rose Lane and turn right by the Boat Inn down the long grass verge (houses there now!) then right again and back down past the sewerage beds (John`s Lane) which were on the right hand side. These would have been in the area of Rattlechain. There were big fields on the right as we rode up Rose Lane. (I remember it being cobbled.) They used to fatten cattle up on there. Then some horses were grazed on there by Les Parsons of Halesowen. I believe they may still be in business?
 
We used to spend hours at my friend Mrs Jones as she loved to see the horses as the fields came right up to her house in Lower Chapel Street. This would be about 1960/63 approx. When they started tipping on there my friend was so upset she had to move.

Many acres of green space, with just a few houses.

I remember some cottages on the left as you came out the tunnel but they may have been derelict by then. They grazed what I think were either Highland cattle  (or longhorns) on that piece of land.  I only knew about the tipping when Mrs Jones used to write and let me know.
 
 
 I next saw the changes after we moved back here in 1990.They had just started to build Sheepwash Urban Park as it was known then.
I was devastated to see what they had done to the area of John`s Lane and Rose Lane, under the tunnel. Not progress to me!
 
 
 Another memory was Monk`s Farm which bordered the Tipton Road, possibly the area where Blakely School is? The farmer`s son used to come down to Ivor`s Riding School driving a little black pony called Sambo, pulling a little trap.(I have one of Sammy`s shoes in the shed still!)”
 

 

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Former Rose Lane and Brades Hall- From agriculture to industrial tips

This area of land forms quite a complex challenge to describe and also define visually  in terms of what it used to be and what it has now become. It is the middle part from which the land changed use from rough animal grazing in the major part, to phased housing development commencing from the 1970’s. It is the tipping part which forms the most controversial aspect. There is a great deal of overlap with land uses and planning applications associated with the rattlechain brickworks and subsequent land sell offs by the conman Sydney Sheldon who trashed the brickworks from the 1960’s onwards.  These will be referenced. The physical address of the brickworks itself is listed as being at Rose Lane.

The former Rose Lane ran as a paralleled  elbow to John’s Lane on the Eastern side, and from The Dudley Road/Tipton Road across to the aqueduct underneath the Birmingham Mainline Canal and railway line to the North. The wider lands both East and West of this division is in a large area stretching from the East across land to The Gower Branch Canal at one side, with  The Dudley and Tipton Roads to the South. West of this was the area of the former Tividale Sewage works, and the Rattlechain brickworks , including the “new” pit dug in the 1950’s which later became the “Duport’s Tip” .

Overlay map of Rose Lane in red from survey map of 1904, showing the extensive “burial” of former agricultural land by housing developments, stretching across the former road.

 

Panoramic view from 1950 showing Rose Lane marked in red. To the left The Rattlechain brickworks and Rattlechain lagoon, the Tividale sewage works, and bottom left, The Vono Lagoon.

The agricultural lands appear to have been prized by industrial actors for the advantage of their increasingly commercial activities, but also by various local authority projects judging by the planning history. Unfortunately these appear to have conspired in creating tips then housing for mutual benefit, and little environmental gain.

By the end of the second World War , the area West of The Rattlechain brickworks appears to have been largely agricultural grazing land. To The West the industrial concerns of Vono and The Rattlechain brickworks , as well as the Tividale Sewage works are quite definable. A strange barracks type formation is shown to the South of the brickworks, and i am not sure what this is, though maybe stacks of bricks? Only limited housing appears at Lower Chapel Street, off the Tipton and Dudley Roads where Rose Lane starts, and finishes at the aqueduct underneath the Birmingham Canal and railway line. Only the allotments off Dudley Road appear to encroach on the grazing area West of the Lane, which is bounded by the Gower Branch Canal and Mainline canal to the North.

1948

1 Vono lagoon, 2. Vono Sports ground and associated lagoon, 3. Area of Rattlechain brickworks pit (Rattlechain lagoon), 4. Rattlechain brickworks, 5. Birmingham Mainline Canal, 6. Gower Branch Canal, 7. Brades Hall Farm, (Monks Farm), 8. Dudley Road allotments. 

Red= Rose Lane

Another 1950 view of the undulating land beyond Rose Lane looking towards the Birmingham mainline Canal and The Gower Branch canal

The land is described as “poor” by The Ministry of Agriculture, in a letter concerning a proposed development in 1952. This is obviously a matter of their opinion, but i would say that it appears much more pleasant from this view, than the vile foundry sand dump and punctuated by toxic waste that it became from the early 70’s! This application map numbered 994  shows Rose Lane marked clearly.

I have looked at the planning history for the brickworks  site in the 1940/50’s HERE, and the wider Rose Lane area encompasses many of the plans from this era, some of which were never enacted despite being granted permission.  Of particular note is application 216, of which there are some references to tipping, but this permission was NEVER a licence to tip across any lands East of Rose Lane, and referred ONLY to the former Rattlechain pit. A map of the site shows the locations of the non actioned 994 and of the 216 application, as well as the extended sewage works sludge drying beds . It is also apparent that the area between the Brades Brook and The Gower Branch canal is proposed as a Tipton college Sports ground.

scan0069

1955, and route of Lane clearly visible on right of picture. Sheldon’s new marlhole has began to carve a visual scar into former agricultural land to the south of the brickworks.

A useful descriptive summary of the lands around Rose Lane is given, in part of a report in 1958 

The Vono company, and their successor even more so, (Duport) ,appear to have had a major destructive impact on the areas of land West of Rose Lane. An application 1311 for “the tipping of material at Tipton Road” was granted in 1953.

A further application 1734 “Levelling operations and erection of dwelling houses” came along in 1955. This was originally refused by Rowley Regis Council, citing the fact that it was at odds with the wider scheme for the area. It involved an extension of the carriageway at Dudley Road, and the demise of the allotments with three separate plots of land identified as A, B, and C.

 

However, at a sub committee meeting of Rowley Regis in April 1956, permission was recommended for approval for area A.

By 1961 the extent of the area can be seen to becoming increasingly overtaken by industrial concerns from The West. The mess of the Rattlechain brickworks new pit is encroaching on the road, the sewage works has expanded to the West also with sludge drying beds, and of course, the Rattlechain lagoon, once one single pit has now acquired a smaller “subsidiary” lagoon carved out by creating a causeway path.

The River Tame from Oldbury is visible, as is the Brades Brook which runs and meets the river. On the right of the Gower branch canal is the Brades Hall Farm, run by the Monk family. Though they owned land on this side to the East of the canal, I am not sure if they ever owned land to the West of this, and the term “Brades Hall Farm” has confusingly referenced the land to the West of the Gower branch in site licences, which I do not believe to be an accurate characterisation of this area.

Aerial photo from 1961, showing the East of Rose Lane as still largely agricultural land, but the blight had began to sweep across from the West.

  1. Rattlechain lagoon. 2. Rattlechain brickworks. 3. Birmingham Mainline Canal. 4. Tividale Sewage Works. 5. The new Rattlechain brickworks pit that would become “The Duport’s tip”. 6. Dudley Road allotments. 7. Brades Hall farm (Monks farm).     8. The Gower Branch Canal.

Rose Lane in red. 

By 1962, the summary of land uses is expressed in an application to turn part of the land into a scrap yard, and concludes that the phosphor bronze company never took up the occupation of the site. But did the crook Sheldon use the part of the permission for tipping as his own commercial free for all? A further application for part of the land bordering the West of Rose Lane was made in 1963 for residential use, but was withdrawn, along with another just months later.

From this point on however the days of brickmaking appear to have been on the wain, and increasingly the authorities appear to have supplemented a very profitable retirement for the Chelmarsh conman along with those other scumbags of the area Vono who were also looking to use the area as a dumping ground for their disgusting company. This 1960’s swindling, I have looked at here, including plans to start building houses off the Tipton Road.

It was clear by this picture below from October 1971 that the area had been lost. The landscape resembles carpet bombing, particularly to the West of Rose Lane, and that West of The Brades Brook. The Brades Hall farm also appears derelict and it was around this time that the vile “Monk’s tip” came into being thanks also to the sheisters from British Waterways. Like Sheldon, this family left the area with a vile legacy and it certainly wasn’t pig shit they left behind. The Rattlechain brickworks in this year was virtually destroyed by a fire, and little remained of it thereafter. New houses appear to have been built, Warwick Gardens etc in the area of land that housed the former Tipton Road allotments. (Area A in the 1734 application.

Destruction in action

  1. Rattlechain lagoon. 2 Tividale Sewage Works. 3 Tividale sewage works extension ref 1082    4. The newer Rattlechain brickworks pit that would become “The Duport’s tip”. 5. New houses  6. The Gower Branch canal.

From the early 1970’s onwards vast amounts of unsanctioned tipping of demolition wastes appear to have taken place across the whole area East of Rose Lane, and it disappeared under what became “The Brades Hall tip.” This eventually resulted in a site licence, to continue this agricultural land destruction and then  encompassed other subsequent licences, of which areas are looked at elsewhere on this website, with the purposes of building more houses.

Of concern about this site for many years has been the levels of landfill gas associated with these and preceding  operations which took place here, some of which were illicit  in nature, and in some instances criminal- such as the depositing of poisonous wastes that led to a successful prosecution in 1976.

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Oh Rose (Lane)- Thou Art Sick#2

William Blake

 

Aerial photo from 1961, showing the East of Rose Lane as still largely agricultural land, but the blight had began to sweep across from the West.

  1. Rattlechain lagoon
  2. Rattlechain brickworks
  3. Birmingham Mainline Canal
  4. Tividale Sewage Works
  5. The new rattlechain brickworks pit that would become “The Duport’s tip”.
  6. Dudley Road allotments
  7. Brades Hall farm (Monks farm)
  8. The Gower Branch Canal.

Rose Lane in red. 

In early 1975, Rose Lane in Tividale had seen 250,000 gallons of sulphuric acid and paint wastes deposited illegally on land scheduled for housing development by two companies . Four men had been charged with the offences, and one name in particular, Ronald McCrum had been fined for his part in the environmental crime.

Note the exact dates concerning the fly tipping of known wastes, 3rd March and 16th April 1975 as this will become important.

But as this article from the 6th May 1975 Birmingham Post shows, there are some question marks raised by the circumstances, as the article refers to the police catching a perpetrator in the act of waste tipping at Rose Lane in the dead of night , but on a date AFTER those attributed to “McScum” and friends.

The “privately owned tip” is a mystery, as there is no tip as far as I can find that ever had planning permission on this land, but there were plenty of very dubious tip applications around this area by the brickworks conman Sheldon, and soilage by those other twats of Dudley Port- Vono and The Duport Group, who did much to destroy this entire area. The quote from Ken Harvey- the waste disposal officer for the WMCC appears uncertain as to the facts of the case.

Does this infer that McCrum and his company were caught out on this date, and the prior offences were ascertained by confession, or by other means, or was this another example of another firm caught fly tipping hazardous wastes illegally?

It also raises questions as to how Metro waste disposal and the other firms were snared by the WMCC. Covert surveillance by cctv would not have existed at this point in time, therefore the sources of intelligence would have had to be arrived at by other means available such as

  • covert asset placed in a suspected rogue company
  • information from whistle blowers
  • phone tapping
  • 24 hour surveillance of suspected firm and following of vehicles out of premises.
  • 24 hour surveillance of suspected dumping site
  • Pure serendipity of police being in the right place at the right time.

Given that the WMCC were not MI5 or even CI5, most of these would have been unlikely, so perhaps it was a rare example of the rossers being diligent for a change.  😮

The other questions and observations I would raise are

  • How or if this incredible amount of waste was removed off site, and how was it “safely” dealt with? 
  • Whose jurisdiction was it to remove the waste and clean up the site?
  • Or was it just left to remain there on site?
  • To confirm the content of the material and to initiate a prosecution, this would presumably have required chemical testing of the actual material found to have been dumped at the particular time of the offences, and to compare this with other content on the site to confirm that nothing else had been dumped there illegally or otherwise prior to this by other persons. 
  •  Surely the extent of the contamination and if it had spread to controlled waters or anywhere else would have been undertaken by the West Midlands County Council pollution Control or the local authority at Sandwell at the time? At least that is what any reasonable person may assume to be their very remit? 

 

Following the public confirmation of the case at Rose Lane, a letter from Ken Harvey, the County Waste Disposal Officer,  to The Director of Environmental health at Sandwell council, S. Hogg,  reveals that this site was “Brades Hall Tip”, yet it is clear that this site was also a site for residential development for The Greaves Organisation.

The date of the letter, 3rd December is therefore written 7 months AFTER the publicised article in The Birmingham Post.

He states that “a great deal of toxic waste has been fly-tipped in this area.” He warns of heavy metal contamination, and the threat to future vegetation.

Harvey considers that the matter is important, (oh you don’t say) 🙄 , and does not know if any samples were taken by the developer of the site. He considers it not the place of the WMCC to approach the developer yet considers that all should be aware of the “pollution implications”- probably except the poor bastards buying houses on the contaminated land that is, no doubt.   😥

Many of the observations and questions that I posed above appear woefully absent from the content of his letter.

A letter from Greaves, the West Bromwich based developer on 14th January 1976, appears to confirm that they were in the process of selling this land to The Spiral Housing Society of Birmingham. The letter identifies 126 plots of land, and that there had been some “fly sludge” tested that had been tipped in MARCH 1975.

This would appear to indicate that the samples were linked to the paint wastes tipped by McScum on 3rd March 1975, BUT NOT THE SUBSEQUENT SULPHURIC ACID WASTES, OR THOSE REPORTED IN MAY OF THE SAME YEAR IN THE BIRMINGHAM POST ARTICLE.

So this means that these samples were not accurate for the character and amount of waste  that was dumped!

Greaves, it is stated would accept all liabilities with the site being free of contamination after being filled and levelled, and they claim that the tests showed no contamination to the soil on the site. Well how bloody convenient when you are flogging off land that was known to have had “a great deal of toxic waste …fly-tipped in this area…”.

One might be a little sceptical of one company selling off contaminated land to another without much scrutiny, but if you do your homework on this company, you will know that Greaves was at this point in time a failing company, who went bankrupt in this very same year of 1976.  At this time, a number of other local developers and builders had also gone bust, and the industry was in freefall. The following article from The post of November 28th 1979 confirms that they were over £6.5 Million in debt and had left behind a string of unfinished housing development sites when they were finally wound up.

The analysis of “fly sludge” test results, presumably of the paint wastes  amount to very little, and do not even identify where they were taken from. In fact, in light of the Greaves Organisation’s financial predicament, I would call them out as confabulated, and untrustworthy bullshit. Was it employees of Greaves that actually took them from the site? but in any case, where were the samples taken by The West Midlands County Council in order to pursue a cogent prosecution?

One should note that the firm carrying out the tests, who could not verify from where they had been even been taken, were Bostock, Hill and Rigby. This particular consultancy also carried out a bloody awful assessment of the Albright and Wilson contaminated land at Strode Road fields in Clevedon. As it is, the levels of Chromium, I assume Chromium v1, are not low at all. The health risks associated with this chemical and to communities are well known.

There are no test results of any soil identified in a letter dated 3rd June 1975, so how the claim is made about no contamination is also to be seriously questioned.

 

 

The uncertainty surrounding a development site where toxic waste had been dumped and where individuals had been prosecuted on this known basis produced that other toxic outcome- the multi-agency meeting. And so it was on 15th January 1976, a number of people met from the WMCC waste disposal department, SMBC planning and environmental health and those dirty players in the game Severn Trent Water- at this point still a public concern.

There are some extraordinary observations made at this meeting, but first it should be stated as to what authority had even sanctioned the obvious bloody free for all that had been going on at the “Brades Hall Tip”.

  • The meeting concerned the known dumping of toxic waste on the site.
  • Harvey’s letter had not identified which area of the site was involved.
  • The planners at SMBC were worried about houses being built there in light of this.
  • It is clear that SMBC were not happy that they had not been informed of the situation much earlier, presumably this would have led to refusal of the application?
  • Thelma Hillman, of the WMCC states that the prosecution meant that they could not disclose the information because of the prosecution. I would call this out as bullshit also, as the council presumably dealt with legal matters themselves and prosecutions, so did Harvey’s team consider themselves above their supposed local authority colleagues?
  • It was not known “how much material would remain in the ground”– which appears to confirm the test results and claims as of Greaves as crap. Just because it “drains through”- how does this make it safe?
  • Cope of SMBC claims that it would not be representative to take samples from across the site because of its size and present condition. By this I take it to mean that ground had subsequently been shifted around the site considerably , and was not as it had been when the wastes had been tipped- meaning that the contamination could have been buried or shifted around into an area that was unidentifiable?  The idea that such a body would not demand that representative samples SHOULD and MUST be taken in such circumstances perhaps raises the question of if this department was fit for purpose?
  • And then perhaps the most extraordinary statement of all from the prosecutor of the WMCC. Somehow, that if tests were taken after all the work had been carried out , then the samples would be representative if they were taken AFTER the houses had been built and taken in the back gardens. I will just leave this statement there…. 😯

How incredible that Hillman was even in such a position to call the odds like this. In my opinion this amounted to aiding and abetting the criminal fly-tippers, in that the controlling regulator who had brought the prosecution was quite happy to allow the site to be levelled and all of the toxic waste that had been identified dumped- some quarter of a million gallons” could magically disappear, and everyone could go home happy- except of course the blighted new house owners who would be blissfully unaware of what was in their backyard.

Cope of SMBC thought that there might be a blight on the site- (erm built on an unsanctioned tip), if people thought that toxic waste had been dumped on it. Oh you don’t say dickhead… 🙄

In this instance, I seriously do not know who is the more immoral, McScum and the toxic waste dumpers, or the officials  at this meeting and their organisations, who appear to action the cover up of their crimes, all for the sake of a few fucking houses from a bent and failed housing developer. 

Perhaps we needed Velma from Scooby Doo and the gang here, instead of Thelma and the WMCC!

 

  • Cope continues that people may think that there is a danger associated with the site What and to whom was his first duty, the public or a pissing West Brom firm?
  • And then what I consider to be the biggest bullshit moment of all- a tale from Hillman that she could identify, where on this expansive site remember, that apparently earlier the WMCC could not to take “representative samples”, that the original fly tipped waste had in fact been dumped down a “deep hole”- 20-30ft diameter . 250,000 gallons. cf an olympic standard swimming pool contains around 550,000 gallons of water. 
  • “and therefore it should not be necessary to consider the whole of the site as being at risk”– absolute bullshit!
  • Drawing holes on maps from the say so of one person’s recollection of events from a site that had changed over time- sounds a very accurate way of going about proving something doesn’t it?  🙁
  • The conclusion of the meeting is frankly scandalous. These are not the actions and rationale of a professional outfit, and if this is the case where such matters were decided, it raises serious questions as to the integrity of investigations into such matters at this time, and of the safety of such sites for development today. 

 

Scooby Doo No GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

The results obtained from this dubious starting point appear to have been equally dubious. Eight samples were supposedly taken, though there is again no reference or statement as to what quantity, or why only the six metals were tested for. The issue of the 250,000 gallons of sulphuric acid, do not appear to have even been examined! I’m pretty sure that it would not be a very good idea to sink foundations into such contaminated land!

Another letter from someone called Malcolm Payne and Associates, presumably for The Spiral Housing Society, queries the depths at which the samples were taken, from the pit remember, and not the whole site, that had seen a great deal of shifting around of material before the tests were taken.

 

The response from Sandwell Council’s Hogg, reveal that they were taken at depths of 12 and 25 feet. Remember that Hillman at the meeting had described the toxic waste dumped area as “a deep hole” . He claims that the results would be consistent with ordinary soil samples.

The concluding statement should perhaps have been shown to McCrum and the others’ solicitors, as to my mind it implies that the conviction was unsafe, based upon the conviction of Hillman that this was where they had dumped the toxic waste!

“As you are aware, the reason for taking the samples was in an endeavour to locate the site of a pit into which alleged toxic material had been tipped, and the results of the samples could, in fact, indicate that we have been unsuccessful.”

Of course, I believe that they had been “unsuccessful”, because this was not the place where McCrum’s toxic waste had been dumped, and one may also speculate, that if a financial loss was to occur a development company for this , that they might make pretty bloody sure that no toxic waste was found in any test results when the site had been narrowed down so helpfully for them by the WMCC officer. Again perhaps another form of divination was needed to determine the actual location of the pit; piss take Pegs “Markers of the Mahyong” , Agent Cooper from Twin Peaks Tibetan stone throwing technique, or even the staff of Ra come to mind….

It is clear that Payne and co took this as a green light to proceed with the development, with no problems at all. He assumes that the depths involved mean that safe development could take place, but again, I would note the absence of any testing for sulphuric acid.

 

Hogg gave a quick response, and a sleight at the West Midlands County Council. The fact that “low concentrations” of material had been found in the site identified by the WMCC themselves after raising the matter appear to leave them looking rather stupid- particularly Ken Harvey. The idea however that all of this should now just be forgotten, and only test in the gardens is scandalous on the part of this Sandwell Council officer.

  • THERE IS NO DOUBT THAT A MASSIVE VOLUME OF WASTE HAD BEEN DUMPED
  • FOUR MEN HAD BEEN PROSECUTED
  • WHERE THE FUCK HAD THE WASTE GONE TO?

In other words, just let’s cover up the toxic material that we could not find and pretend it’s no longer there by claiming that the garden soil is fine.

 

The letter Hogg refers to is shown below. Harvey also believes that it to be “not a particular problem in this location”. Yet neutralises this with the clanger that their information (and prosecution) was based upon “a large quantity of toxic chemicals… (having been)…deposited in the area. ”

Furthermore he also speculates that the waste may have moved through the sand – (foundry sand, probably with phenolic binders that give off carbon dioxide) and along the clay bed, though there is no positive evidence to support this. AND THIS IS THE MAN WHO GRANTED WASTE DISPOSAL LICENCES SUCH AS THE ONE AT RATTLECHAIN, WHAT A BRAIN HE WAS!

 

But Harvey before his death in 1980 went on to submit evidence to The House of Lords Select committee on hazardous waste on behalf of the WMCC. He cites under “Adequacy of scientific testing in the field”, (so that rules them out then) 😆 ,instances where development sites have produced great difficulties, in light of the contamination that had unexpectedly been found after development had begun, or perhaps more to the point, the developers had failed to identify the risks- like at the Spiral Homes Temple Way development site where toxic wastes had been dumped apparently, but not found.

He gives a remarkably interesting case in Sandwell where “fly tipping of hazardous waste had occurred that was development for housing purposes”. Oh that sounds familiar Ken tell us more…

“This authority aware of the the implications , raised the matter with the District Authority, and soil samples were taken as a result, indicating alarmingly high levels of toxic metals, including lead. ”  

That’s extraordinary Ken, and how did you and they deal with this potent risk?

“It was possible to redesign the layout , in this case, such that the majority of contamination was under pavements, roadways and a traffic island. A number of dwellings had to be reallocated to a type with landscaped gardens (to prevent disturbance or vegetable cultivation) etc after removal of contaminated soil to a depth of two metres.”

Doesn’t it make you feel safe in your scruffy 1970’s built home that Ken Harvey, S Hogg and co of Sandwell Council were in charge of making sure that developments were not being built on contaminated land, that is “the majority” of it not being so.  😳

He also enthrals us and the Lords with a story about phosphorus wastes igniting from a canal arm , that had been used to infill another development site in Birmingham! Apparently “phosphorus is quite safe under water”– except if you are a bird ingesting this banned rat poison in a hazardous waste site sanctioned by a THICK TWAT 😥

So what we had here is a combination of the following at Land around Rose Lane.

  • A totally incompetent County Waste disposal officer, and a department which failed to get in touch with the local planning authority and the housing developer, and who were fully aware that a housing development had commenced.
  • A housing developer in Greaves who went bust, before the development had finished.
  • A housing developer who offered up extremely dodgy samples of alleged “sludge” that had been fly tipped.
  • A county waste disposal officer who might as well have been mystic meg in terms of locating alleged dumping of toxic waste.
  • All complicit in covering up the waste and its location from future residents whose houses and gardens could be built on top of material hazardous to human health! 

One wonders with all of this how the convictions obtained against McCrum and Co by the WMCC were even safe, if it had not been for the enormous quantities involved which appear to have just magically disappeared?  Of course the contaminated area could have been dug up and just as easily been fly- tipped somewhere else to get rid of the problem before any sampling took place.  😕

Further developments under vague site licensing by the WMCC would see a demolition waste dumping darby on land both East and West of Rose Lane, particularly of Vandyke brown foundry sand. If there were any roses on Rose Lane, they would quickly have been diminished by the phytotoxic crap smeared and scraped across the canvas like the stuff that Bob Ross would have painted only in his worst post apocalyptic nightmare.

Overlay of the former Rose Lane showing the extent of modern housing including the Temple Way Estate referred to in this post.

Here’s a good song mentioning “cowboys”, “Roses” and “scars”, by a rather aptly named band….

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Oh Rose (Lane)- Thou Art Sick#1

William Blake

In the case of the now little known Rose Lane of Oldbury, “invisible worms” came by lorry under the guise of some “transport” haulage company or “waste disposal” operation and left the land saturated with chemical sickness.

Rose Lane ran in an elbowed parallel with John’s Lane, starting in Dudley Road East and terminating underneath the tunnel of the Birmingham Canal and railway line. This in fact today is all that remains of it.

A stub of Rose lane off Dudley Road East now amounts to a narrow passageway.

It crossed an area belonging to the former Rattlechain brickworks, and the parcels of land adjoining it became increasingly sold off by the conman Sydney Sheldon for housing concerns. At the same time, Sheldon appeared to entertain very dubious characters whom it appeared tipped waste in this general area. What type of “arrangement” went on here is left to history, but even Albright and Wilson lamented the fact that they had observed a lorry tipping liquid waste which had run into rattlechain from this area!

One aspect of this site is that it formed part of one of the first successful prosecutions under The Deposit of Poisonous Wastes Act 1972. This Act came into force after numerous public stories of hazardous waste tipping, especially barrels of cyanide that were being found lying around in public areas. Even Rattlechain and The Gower tip had dumped cyanide turn up. The West Midlands was the central focus of this aggressive criminal fly tipping , not only as a result of the dirty industries in the area that produced the waste and wanted to get rid of it cheaply, but also from industry outside the area, who did not want it in tips in their “posh” areas. It was both a failure of legislature as well as the companies who wanted to offload their dangerous crap with few questions asked.

In a report in the August 6th 1976 edition of The Birmingham Evening Mail, it is revealed by whistle blower Keith Boyd as to how “deadly bribes” could be offered by waste companies of dubious character to get rid of waste at tips who were not meant to receive such wastes under after the DPWA, and by now, The Control of Pollution Act. 

One can only take his claims at face value, and the firm that he worked for is not named. I have little doubt however in believing everything that he said to be true.

The article mentions that four men from firms from the Bilston area were to be charged the following month in connection with 38 charges of illegal dumping and forging documents. This incident refers directly to matters relating to Rose Lane and chemical dumping which took place there, as we shall see later on in this post.

Boyd describes how easy it was for a rogue company to give a bribe to tip the waste, in this case more alleged cyanide. It is also alleged that harmful wastes were disposed of, into a nearby stream. Though the company remains unnamed in this article, and “the former managing director” of the company named by the ex employee denied the allegations, the subsequent prosecutions of those responsible for the Rose Lane issues, and the circumstances, lead me to believe that they were one and the same , or else a very similar rogue trader operation.

The article then appeared under a new headline the following evening.

 

Details of the charges were given in The Birmingham Daily Post of 29th October 1976.

On Halloween,  the Evening mail  revealed the details of the outcome of the successful prosecution at Wolverhampton Crown Court of the four men and two of the companies involved in the dumping of toxic waste at both Moxley- (Moxley Tip), and at Tividale- Rose Lane.

The two named Bilston companies were Aqua Descaling Company Limited, and Metro Waste Disposal Limited. At Moxley 65 drums of cyanide were attempted to be dumped with a cash bribe to the tip operators.

The four men on trial were HORACE MILBURN, RONALD McCRUM, PETER LOTE AND GERALD PEAKE. Peake it is revealed, had died in a road accident before the case had come to court. McCrum, “former director” of Metro, and Milburn, both pleaded guilty to two charges of depositing poisonous waste. Lote had his charges lay on file. McCrum had a 12 month prison sentence suspended for two years and was fined £400 and Milburn 6 months suspended for 2 years and a £200 pound fine.

Another piece from the Daily Post of the following day stated that a lorry had been left full of toxic waste from these shysters in a Wolverhampton Street for two years, putting the public at serious risk.

Note the address of Burbage of McCrum, as will be revealed further on in this post….

More detail ,particularly about the acidic wastes dumped and their location, is revealed in the subsequent minutes of the West Midlands County Council Waste Disposal and Pollution Control subcommittee dated 22nd December 1977 by county waste disposal officer Ken Harvey. A third company “Commercial and Domestic Services Limited” is also named and it is also revealed that earlier successful prosecutions had already taken place after 1974 when irregularities were first being investigated.

It is stated that “some 250,000 gallons of toxic waste had been illegally deposited on land at Tividale scheduled for redevelopment as housing.”

The housing development referred to was known as “The Spiral housing development” and located off Rose Lane on what is now The Temple Way estate. The principle liquid involved was reported to be sulphuric acid. 


 


 

Absolutely pathetic fine!

But further charges were to be revealed against McCrum, with another of his fraudulent waste disposal operations in BRASWAY DISPOSAL LIMITED. 

The charges of tipping cyanide and dumping waste at sea were outlined in the 22nd February Birmingham Daily Post.

“Honour” – MY ARSE!

Incredibly, the director of the parent company, a Mr Reg Swaby, claimed that the company were “blameless”.  😆

Minutes of the 19th April 1979 West Midlands County Council waste disposal and Pollution Control Committee reveal McCrum’s name appearing again along with Ronald Low, Daniel Hobbs, and  Alfred Paddock!

It is clear that this “disposal” operation was a criminal enterprise, not only dumping chemical waste in the region, but nationally and defrauding other companies of money in the process.

Minutes of the 20th March 1980 West Midlands County Council Waste Disposal and pollution Control Committee reveal the following about the resulting trial.

“Brasway waste disposal Ltd, Leabrook , Wednesbury , a subsidiary of Brasway Ltd was formed in February 1973. The company moved large quantities of toxic waste, using their yard at Wednesbury for bulk storage and/or treatment before disposal at various locations throughout the country.

In the summer of 1974, a comparison of quantities of wastes taken into Brasway’s yard against quantities subsequently removed revealed major discrepancies. Discussion with the company failed to resolve these discrepancies.

More than 300 tonnes of Waste Cyanide Hardening salts were known to be stored at Wednesbury pending ‘treatment’. Officers had expressed doubt over the mechanics of this treatment operation. The company repeatedly ignored comments and advice given by the monitoring authorities as to the suitability of disposal routes.

A change of management in early 1975 failed to bring about any real improvement in the situation so the Pollution Control Division initiated an investigation. Disturbing facts quickly became apparent and the matter was referred to West Midlands Police.

The subsequent joint investigations resulted in allegations that  approximately half of all liquid toxic wastes handled by Brasway ended up in the adjacent Leabrook (between April 1974 and June 1975 a surplus of over 3 million gallons of toxic liquid waste and 1000 tonnes of solid waste- mostly cyanide had gone into Brasway yard and not emerged. This was far in excess of the storage capacity. Pollution Control officers initiated a surveillance programme.

On 7th June 1976 , Brasway Waste Disposal Ltd, pleaded guilty at West Bromwich magistrates court to nine charges under The Deposit of Poisonous wastes Act.”

 

Obviously not “blameless” when they pleaded GUILTY!

The reaction from the waste disposal officer, in an article reported in The Ends Report,  Thelma Hillman, is to be expected, when such characters could just operate a scam company in this way.

“The charges related to the illegal dumping of cyanide wastes at sites in Derbyshire, Shropshire and the West Midlands, and at sea off Birkenhead. However, because of the offences took place before Section 16 of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 was implemented, the local authorities in whose jurisdiction the dumping occurred are unable to recover the costs of removing and disposing of the dumped wastes.

Mrs T Hillman, Divisional Engineer in West Midland County Council’s Waste Disposal Department, indicated that she was “very disappointed” with the sentences. Although she believes that “illegal tipping is not as rife as it was before waste disposal site licensing was introduced under the Control of Pollution Act”, Mrs Hillman also highlighted a problem increasingly shared by many local authorities – that the combined effects of local government manpower cutbacks and the diversion of resources to waste disposal surveys and site licensing required under the Control of Pollution Act are having a detrimental effect on the surveillance and prosecution of illegal waste disposal. Under the circumstances, she believes, “the general level of fines is not as severe as it should be”.


It is interesting to note, that this is not the end of the sulphuric acid tipping tosspot McCrum’s story, as it appears he had regular form , and had been at this dodgy business for years. A piece from The Coventry Evening Telegraph of 11th January 1972, at the height of the cyanide dumping scare which initiated the Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act, reveals a whistle blower driver, at a “Death tip” in Wolston. It reveals that waste was being poured into an open pit with no questions being asked. One of the companies named who dumped at the pit were PURLE WASTE DISPOSAL LIMITED. But just look who was the ex manager of this company’s Shilton, Leicester depot for two years, why none other than the Briar Close , Burbage barrel dumper Ron McCrum! The comment attached by him in this story is quite extraordinary.

“small engineering firms might be tempted to dispose of cyanide by disguising it as non-toxic chemicals for the sake of cheapness he said”

Obviously his next move was in the rogue Bilston companies, doing just this!

…and just as a footnote, I wonder if this was the same Ron Fred McCrum who had had his collar felt a few years earlier in 1958 as a 23 year old in Rugby?

There is no doubt that the scumbag McCrum and his colleagues in crime as crooked rogue trader enterprises should have served time behind bars for fly tipping dangerous chemicals and putting peoples’ lives and that of the wildlife in the environment at severe risk. This is just what they were caught out doing, by a law which did not go far enough, and I have no doubt their entirely dubious operations had extended beyond what the authorities were aware of and could prove when considering the quantities that went into the Wednesbury den of vice. 

But their “industry” was the tip of the iceberg, where any old Steptoe tatter with a tipper could set themselves up in “reclamation” or “waste disposal” with very few questions asked. And some of them got away with it, unlike him. The toxic legacy left behind at Rose lane however would continue to cause the authorities some headaches, and I will look at this in the second part of this story…….

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