MP’s fear following brinewell blowout

Portraits of Eric Ollerenshaw, Wednesday February 24 2010. Photo By Andrew Parsons ''Free for editorial and/or personal use only. No sales, no commercial use.
Portraits of Eric Ollerenshaw, Wednesday February 24 2010. Photo By Andrew Parsons ''Free for editorial and/or personal use only. No sales, no commercial use.
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PREESALL’S MP has joined in the concerns following last month’s brinewell discharge.

Tonnes of salt-saturated mud was pressure-forced out of a brinewell, leaving parts of a field and a country lane covered with the substance.

The brinewell blowout, from disused ICI salt mines, has prompted alarm in the community.

This week Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Eric Ollerenshaw joined those making comment.

He has visited the site, spoken to local farmers worried about the impact and is intending to contact the Health and Safety Executive to check when its report will be made public.

Mr Ollerenshaw said: “The incident illustrates what people have been saying for a long time. We do not seem to know what is happening in the geology of the area. This incident has massive implications.”

This week when The Courier visited the area shrubs and bushes affected by the brine fall out appeared dead or dying.

One Back Lane resident said: “It is like autumn down here.”

Halite Energy (formerly Canatxx) said: “Investigations have begun and we are making good progress.  We are awaiting some contractors’ availability to run the hole tests so we can establish some basic information regarding the cavern and the casing, following which we will be able to make interpretations on the blow out based on facts.  There is still some air pressure within the cavern and we are waiting until this has reached a sufficiently low level before removing the top flange.

“We will be making the results of these investigations available to the local community. Before we do so we need to ensure we have gathered sufficient information.”

Commenting on Mr Ollerenshaw’s view, Halite said: “This blowout involves a cavern constructed between 1904 and 1930 which was created to extract salt for the chemical industry. It was not designed, operated or decommissioned to any particular standards. The Halite proposal consists of deeper caverns which would be designed, operated and decommissioned to stringent national standards.

Commenting on the decaying vegetation Halite said: “We have engaged soil scientists and ecologists to monitor the situation and take samples of potentially affected soil and water.” A restoration project is planned.