Concern over pipe leaking at former Turner Brothers Asbestos site

Date published: 06 May 2017

An old water pipe has been isolated at the former Turner Brothers Asbestos factory in Spodden Valley after a leak was reported on Wednesday (3 May).

Local residents reported ‘a large number of officials in high visibility jackets’ and vehicles from United Utilities, consultants RPS Group, and Northern Insulation Contractors (NIC), who specialise in asbestos removal. It is understood the Environment Agency were also on site.

A United Utilities spokesperson said: “It looks like there was a possible leakage from a disused water pipe from a pump house on the site. The pipe was isolated during the evening of Wednesday 3 May. The matter has been handed over to the council as it is on private land.”

The Council has confirmed the information has been passed to the landowner’s representatives.

A spokesperson for Save Spodden Valley said: “There are local reports of a lot of site activity on the former Turner Brothers Asbestos site in the Spodden Valley.

“Local concerns are clear: disturbing the site and buildings in an unregulated manner could disturb asbestos and other significant contaminants. The former asbestos factory complex has a large network of drains and is situated beside the River Spodden, controlled waters that feed into the Roch and Mersey.

“Local people are remaining vigilant after their frustrations in trying to report suspected unauthorised demolition work and scrap metal removal for several months.

"As Rochdale Online has previously reported, emails by the public to the secretive TBA Project Team expressing concern about banging noises and unauthorised activity appeared to be dismissed as ‘wind noise’ around the derelict asbestos factory site. Repeated requests for official site inspections to confirm if the asbestos factory buildings have been disturbed also seemed to have fallen on deaf ears.

“Rochdale Council's attitude to public concern was reported by Rochdale Online last year when it emerged that an official responsible for contaminated sites suggested that the internet was full of ‘misinformation’ about the site, yet time and time again, local concerns seem to be vindicated.

“In 2004 a report for the site's owners stated (at paragraph 5.30): ‘of particular note is the absence of any asbestos contamination’- a claim proven to be incorrect in a report by Atkins Global commissioned by Rochdale Council.”

Nicola Rogers, Rochdale Borough Council’s public protection service manager, said: “The council has looked into the recent work being carried out, which involves general maintenance and improving site security.

“The work is due to be completed by the end of next week and there is no suggestion that it is being undertaken in an unregulated manner or would pose a risk to public health. The TBA site is privately owned, which means security on site is a matter for the site owner – a fact we have explained numerous times. The council has forwarded complaints about noise and other questions from the public to the site owners’ representative who has confirmed that 24 hour security is present onsite.”

A spokesperson for SSV responded: "Ms Roger's seems to be confused about this. Let's be absolutely clear - our reference to disturbing the site and unregulated work was in regard to the repeated vandalism and metal theft by trespassers that appears to have been going on for months.

"A Licenced Asbestos removal firm has been seen on site. Red sacks of waste (approved for asbestos removal) have been removed. This suggests that the trespassers stealing scrap have disturbed the deadly material.

"It is a little disingenuous for Ms Rogers to suggest the official work now going on is "general maintenance" given that the lodge pump house has apparently been stripped of all ferrous metal. How was this done during '24 hour site security'?

"What next from Rochdale Council? A suggestion that the main pump house pipework was cracked by Faeries and Goblins from Healey Dell?

"Local people deserve facts and not comments that appear little more than Rochdale Council PR statements on behalf of the mysterious offshore land owners".

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