Sabotage ‘evidence’ released

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THE company behind a multi-million pound gas store scheme on the River Wyre estuary has revealed the evidence which prompted its fears of sabotage when a brinewell erupted last summer, spewing tonnes of salty mud on a field and rural roads at Preesall.

Halite Energy came under fire for the incident, with many local people blaming the unstable geology of the area.

Halite was also criciticised for refusing to reveal its evidence for its sabotage claims.

But now, ten months after the blast, Halite has finally revealed the evidence it previously kept from the public at the request of the investigating authorities.

The company says information about tool markings on the blast well, and tampering with several wellheads, was presented to the police and other authorities last summer.

Keith Budinger, chief executive of Halite Energy, said: “The evidence of tool markings alongside the fact that eight wellheads had been tampered with left us with no choice but to report the matter to the authorities.

“While we appreciate some members of the local community have been unhappy that the evidence of potential tampering has until now not been publicly disclosed, the relevant authorities had requested that this evidence only be shared with them whilst their investigations were ongoing in order to ensure that their investigations were not compromised.”

Halite’s records show the brine well involved in the incident had been inspected in February 2011 and again in March 2011. On both occasions, the well was found to be in good condition.

Neither Halite nor its contractors had operated the wellhead between the time of the inspections and the brinewell blast last June.

Mr Budinger said: “We are fully aware of the concern and uncertainty that this has created in some areas but we hope that people will realise that this is a very serious issue which had to be thoroughly investigated.

“The police have now confirmed that there is insufficient evidence to positively verify that a crime was committed and that they are undertaking no further investigation at this time.”

Halite is continuing to assess the former ICI brine fields and says it is committed to safely maintaining them.

• The report into the incident is available from Halite’s website