Investigation now to begin after “explosion that shook Thurrock”

AN INVESTIGATION is set to begin following the explosion at an Industrial Chemicals plant in Thurrock that left two men injured and residents across the borough advised to stay indoors.

The Health and Safety Executive has been informed after the leak of caustic soda from a “small tank” at the plant at Oliver Road, West Thurrock.

For many residents, it was the initial bang at just after 8pm that frightened them.

From West Thurrock to Aveley to South Ockendon, Chafford Hundred, Grays as well as across the water in Gravesend, Dartford and even as far as Bexley Heath in Kent, the bang was heard. Although some residents were able to laugh it off, many will want to be re-assured and be informed of the full facts surrounding the incident.

In July, a man was injured in an explosion in a chemical factory in Stoneness Road, West Thurrock. That incident saw a large bang that woke up a large portion of West Thurrock on a Sunday morning.

One person on twitter did question the lack of presence of ICG last night. @allanedwards tweeted: “Explosion at one of their plants here in #thurrock & nothing on (web-site), no twitter presence, no crisis comms plan?”

YT will endeavour to contact ICG this morning.

5 Responses to "Investigation now to begin after “explosion that shook Thurrock”"

  1. superman   September 29, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    Dear Ms Kerage

    Please find below answers to your questions raised in your email dated 20 October.

    Regards.

    Mr Millard
    From: denise kerage [mailto:denisekerage@”
    Sent: 20 October 2010 15:52
    To: Farrant, Graham; Cllr J Kent; Millard, Andrew (Head of Planning and Transportation); Westwell, Tim; Michael Casey; The Enquirer; private eye; Cllr A Cheale; Cllr O Gerrish; Cllr G Rice; Cllr A.J Smith; Cllr P Anderson; Cllr B.J Palmer; simon inspectorate
    Subject: Pal Group

    Date: 20th October 2010

    Mr A Millard, Mr T Westwell and
    Mr B Newman
    Planning Department
    Thurrock Council
    Civic Offices
    New Road, Grays
    Essex RM17 6SL.

    Dear Gentleman,

    Re: Former West Thurrock Power Station Stoneness Road Grays Essex

    May we please have answers to the following points of query relating to the Enforcement Report concerning the use of land at the above site and which was brought before Thurrock Council’s Planning Committee on the 23 September 2010:

    1 Please find attached three aerial photographs one of which has been obtained from Google Earth and the two remaining photographs have been supplied to us following a FOI request and which were also sent to your department by the Thurrock Gateway Development Corporation in good time for that information to be included in said report brought before the Planning Committee on the 23rd September 2010 and which is noticeably absent. We would be obliged if you could provide some clarity on this matter and in particular specify why this information was not included either in your report or the presentation and which would have provided assistance to the Planning Committee in assisting their deliberations concerning the need for enforcement action to be taken? We would appreciate a full answer to this question mindful at all times that the whole site was supposed to have been reviewed.

    It is not considered that the photographs to which you refer would have assisted the Planning Committee in their deliberations. The precise extent of the breach of planning control was not a fundamental consideration, although the scale of the breach was identified in the report. I should also correct your assertion that the matter under consideration by the Committee was a review of the whole site. The only matter that was under consideration was that of the unauthorised lorry park. Other alleged breaches of Planning control on the site are the subject of separate and on-going investigations.

    2 Please state why the report also neglected to mention that this site is a tier one COMAH site . This is particularly relevant in light of the fact that there are hundreds of unsuspecting HGV lorry drivers sleeping and resting in the cabs of their lorries and where they may be smoking, drinking and eating. We are also aware that some lorries are refrigerated, for the purpose of transporting perishable food and as such they will have auxiliary engines that run day and night in order to keep the cargo frozen. These are parked immediately adjacent and within fifty feet of the perimeter of this COMAH site and is identified quite clearly in the enclosed photographs. Please provide a comprehensive explanation. It is clear that this is not an oversight as there is an officer delegated Hazardous Substance Consent granted and under the jurisdiction of Mr Newman for this site.

    It was not considered that this was a central consideration in the Council’s decision to take enforcement action against this particular breach of planning control. However, I have requested that Officers take this matter up directly with the HSE so as to clarify the position should an appeal be lodged against the Enforcement Notice.

    3 We have been in contact with the Environment Agency in Norwich who were under the impression that no chemicals are stored on this site and they are as alarmed about this situation as we are as residents of West Thurrock, South Stifford and Purfleet. We await your response so that we can provide your response to the relevant officer.

    This was not relevant to the consideration of the lorry park issue. We will liaise with the Environment Agency in so far as this issue relates to the other matters under investigations on the wider site. In this regard, please can you give the contact detail for the EA Officer you have been in liaison with.

    4 When the photograph from Google Earth is compared to the two aerial photographs provided by the TTGDC, there is a great variation with regard to the number of buildings. As there are very few Planning Applications for this site, with the last being in 2006 which incidentally was for the widening of an access road and approved by Mr Newman under officer delegated powers and which was referred to in 2.17 of the Enforcement Report. Please provide a full explanation of both the large number of buildings that have no planning and the reason for the particular approval of a widened access to a non-operational site.

    As previously stated, all other possible breaches of Planning control over the wider site are under investigation.

    The application for access was approved because it was not considered to breach any of the policies contained in the development plan and there were not considered to be any other material Planning considerations that would have led to the Council being able to justify a refusal of permission.

    5 Please could you tell us why at the time of this letter been written ICG Ltd or ICL whichever you prefer to call this company are in the process of constructing a Chlor-Alkali Plant? It is our understanding that this plant is meant to produce chlorine gas. Please could you explain whether or not our information sources are correct because we note from information obtained and received from the Environmental Agency that a licence has been granted to ICG Ltd or ICL or one of the several other companies that are registered on that site to engage in this process? In addition please supply details of the planning application for this.

    There is no record of any Planning Permission having been granted for this. The Council will contact the Environment Agency on this matter to establish what is being constructed on the site. Again, the contact details for the EA Officer would be useful in this regard. Any unauthorised development that may require Planning Permission will be fully investigated.

    I reiterate my request for an explanation as to why such important information and aerial photographs were not included in your presentation to the Committee and the fact that the exact measurements and existence of this tier one COMAH site was also omitted from the report, including the specific need to clearly define the legally required exclusion zone.

    To date we have been dealing with Mr Westwell and have suffered not only constant delays but sketchy and incomplete information. We have assured the Environment Agency a prompt response and now request an immediate and full response.

    The Council has previously advised PAL of out target response times in respect of written enquiries. Officer’s will ensure to the best of their ability that those response times are met (i.e. within 10 working days). It is my understanding that all responses to you have been well within this timeframe. I also hold the opinion that those replies have sought to give you the information you have requested.

    Yours sincerely,
    PALS Group

    _____________________________________________________________________
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  2. superman   September 29, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    Dear Ms Kerage

    Please find below answers to your questions raised in your email dated 20 October.

    Regards.

    Mr Millard
    From: denise kerage [mailto:denisekerage@”
    Sent: 20 October 2010 15:52
    To: Farrant, Graham; Cllr J Kent; Millard, Andrew (Head of Planning and Transportation); Westwell, Tim; Mdichael Casey; The Enquirer; private eye; Cllr A Cheale; Cllr O Gerrish; Cllr G Rice; Cllr A.J Smith; Cllr P Anderson; Cllr B.J Palmer; simon inspectorate
    Subject: Pal Group

    Date: 20th October 2010

    Mr A Millard, Mr T Westwell and
    Mr B Newman
    Planning Department
    Thurrock Council
    Civic Offices
    New Road, Grays
    Essex RM17 6SL.

    Dear Gentleman,

    Re: Former West Thurrock Power Station Stoneness Road Grays Essex

    May we please have answers to the following points of query relating to the Enforcement Report concerning the use of land at the above site and which was brought before Thurrock Council’s Planning Committee on the 23 September 2010:

    1 Please find attached three aerial photographs one of which has been obtained from Google Earth and the two remaining photographs have been supplied to us following a FOI request and which were also sent to your department by the Thurrock Gateway Development Corporation in good time for that information to be included in said report brought before the Planning Committee on the 23rd September 2010 and which is noticeably absent. We would be obliged if you could provide some clarity on this matter and in particular specify why this information was not included either in your report or the presentation and which would have provided assistance to the Planning Committee in assisting their deliberations concerning the need for enforcement action to be taken? We would appreciate a full answer to this question mindful at all times that the whole site was supposed to have been reviewed.

    It is not considered that the photographs to which you refer would have assisted the Planning Committee in their deliberations. The precise extent of the breach of planning control was not a fundamental consideration, although the scale of the breach was identified in the report. I should also correct your assertion that the matter under consideration by the Committee was a review of the whole site. The only matter that was under consideration was that of the unauthorised lorry park. Other alleged breaches of Planning control on the site are the subject of separate and on-going investigations.

    2 Please state why the report also neglected to mention that this site is a tier one COMAH site . This is particularly relevant in light of the fact that there are hundreds of unsuspecting HGV lorry drivers sleeping and resting in the cabs of their lorries and where they may be smoking, drinking and eating. We are also aware that some lorries are refrigerated, for the purpose of transporting perishable food and as such they will have auxiliary engines that run day and night in order to keep the cargo frozen. These are parked immediately adjacent and within fifty feet of the perimeter of this COMAH site and is identified quite clearly in the enclosed photographs. Please provide a comprehensive explanation. It is clear that this is not an oversight as there is an officer delegated Hazardous Substance Consent granted and under the jurisdiction of Mr Newman for this site.

    It was not considered that this was a central consideration in the Council’s decision to take enforcement action against this particular breach of planning control. However, I have requested that Officers take this matter up directly with the HSE so as to clarify the position should an appeal be lodged against the Enforcement Notice.

    3 We have been in contact with the Environment Agency in Norwich who were under the impression that no chemicals are stored on this site and they are as alarmed about this situation as we are as residents of West Thurrock, South Stifford and Purfleet. We await your response so that we can provide your response to the relevant officer.

    This was not relevant to the consideration of the lorry park issue. We will liaise with the Environment Agency in so far as this issue relates to the other matters under investigations on the wider site. In this regard, please can you give the contact detail for the EA Officer you have been in liaison with.

    4 When the photograph from Google Earth is compared to the two aerial photographs provided by the TTGDC, there is a great variation with regard to the number of buildings. As there are very few Planning Applications for this site, with the last being in 2006 which incidentally was for the widening of an access road and approved by Mr Newman under officer delegated powers and which was referred to in 2.17 of the Enforcement Report. Please provide a full explanation of both the large number of buildings that have no planning and the reason for the particular approval of a widened access to a non-operational site.

    As previously stated, all other possible breaches of Planning control over the wider site are under investigation.

    The application for access was approved because it was not considered to breach any of the policies contained in the development plan and there were not considered to be any other material Planning considerations that would have led to the Council being able to justify a refusal of permission.

    5 Please could you tell us why at the time of this letter been written ICG Ltd or ICL whichever you prefer to call this company are in the process of constructing a Chlor-Alkali Plant? It is our understanding that this plant is meant to produce chlorine gas. Please could you explain whether or not our information sources are correct because we note from information obtained and received from the Environmental Agency that a licence has been granted to ICG Ltd or ICL or one of the several other companies that are registered on that site to engage in this process? In addition please supply details of the planning application for this.

    There is no record of any Planning Permission having been granted for this. The Council will contact the Environment Agency on this matter to establish what is being constructed on the site. Again, the contact details for the EA Officer would be useful in this regard. Any unauthorised development that may require Planning Permission will be fully investigated.

    I reiterate my request for an explanation as to why such important information and aerial photographs were not included in your presentation to the Committee and the fact that the exact measurements and existence of this tier one COMAH site was also omitted from the report, including the specific need to clearly define the legally required exclusion zone.

    To date we have been dealing with Mr Westwell and have suffered not only constant delays but sketchy and incomplete information. We have assured the Environment Agency a prompt response and now request an immediate and full response.

    The Council has previously advised PAL of out target response times in respect of written enquiries. Officer’s will ensure to the best of their ability that those response times are met (i.e. within 10 working days). It is my understanding that all responses to you have been well within this timeframe. I also hold the opinion that those replies have sought to give you the information you have requested.

    Yours sincerely,
    PALS Group

    _____________________________________________________________________
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    http://www.messagelabs.com/stats.asp

  3. superman   September 29, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    llocation of primary industrial and employment land for use as a lorry park. Moreover the owners of the old West Thurrock Power Station site have also been operating a smaller scale Truck Lorry Park on the site of their primary operations in the Titan works pit in Hogg Lane Grays which our enquiries reveal has a planning contravention notice in existence against it. Yet again this use is unauthorised and illegal and is being carried out without the benefit of planning permission and as with the Lorry Park at the site of the old West Thurrock Power Station site is operating within the required exclusion zone required under the regulations applicable to a top tier one chemical operations plant site. Accordingly lorries parked on this site containing highly flammable fuel in their tanks are parked up within the boundary of the required 400 metre exclusion zone which might have catastrophic consequences for the HGV Lorry Drivers should there ever be a chemical explosion incident. No doubt the people who granted planning permission would be deemed liable and responsible for any loss of human life arising from such unauthorised use in direct contravention of COMA site regulations.( Letter sent 2010 Thurrock council in my opinion is one big White Wash, the didn’t care about the 2000 residents who signed this petition, furthermore they was told many times by the pals group the danger this tier 1 Comah site could cause, but they just turn a blind eye

  4. superman   September 29, 2013 at 7:49 pm

    Thank you for your e-mail and looking into this for me for which i am always most grateful. However I would kindly point out that I am a lay person and cant understand what you mean by saying “I am guessing you were alerted to this by visiting the Council to view documents on file?”. I have never viewed documents at the council and the council have never informed me that i can. Indeed it was smart planning who informed me last month but i have e-mailed Dave Packer some 10 times asking for a response as to whether or not we will be allowed to speak at the enforcement appeal hearing? The leader of the Council Concillor John Kent previously advised us on the PALs group who are a group of 2000 parents mainly in the West Thurrock and surrounding areas, that the enforcement officer David Bloom at Thurrock Council would work hand in hand with the PALs group but he has not. I will forward you the two e-mails from the enforcement department which pertain solely to this matter. Hope this helps you because we are totally at a loss to get any help from Thurrock Council given they are insisting that we make FOI requests for any information that we believe we as residents in the area affected by this illegal operation are entitled to.

    Please help us to ensure we like everyone else involved and interested in this whole process get a fair hearing.

    PALs group

    PS. Incidentally, Paul this was an apppraisal of the enforcement action taken by Mr Bloom which i am sure you have received this important document already from Thurrock Council. I received this on the 5th November 2010 and we are still waiting a definitive conclusion to his investigation. Please read this below which is an update to the enforcement report from David Bloom on the 5th November 2010 which again solely relates to that site. I will forward you his last e-mail which I have received.

    Enforcement Investigation Update on West Thurrock Power Station Site and Titan Works Hogg Lane.

    4th November 2010

    Update on investigations into the following issues at West Thurrock Power Station.

    1) Provision of more hard-standing on the lorry park
    2) The running of a motorbike training facility.
    3) Three lorry parks
    4) Addition buildings on the site shown on aerial photographs.

    Additional issues:

    5) Operation of a pallet storage business.
    6) Operation of a tyre storage business.

    I can confirm the following:

    1) Hard-Standing:
    There is no evidence that further hard-standing is being laid at this time to facilitate more lorry parking on the site. No breach found.

    Action:
    No further action required.

    2) Motorbike Training Facility
    A motorbike training facility has been run from part of the site for approximately 4 and a half years. The Council have not received any previous complaints about this use. Planning permission is required for this use of the land which is shown in area 1 of the TTGDC aerial photographs supplied from the PAL Group. Breach Found

    Action:
    Write to the site owners and operators to either apply for planning permission, or to cease the use of the land as such. Consideration can then be given to either a planning application or to the expediency of any enforcement action.

    3) Three Additional Lorry Parks
    Aerial photographs provided by the TTGDC group show 2 areas on the site which were stated to be additional lorry parks. There are lorries parked on these areas except that on the balance of probability these are lorries that are used in connection with the lawful B2 use of the site as a Chemical Works. Further evidence required.

    Action:
    A Planning Contravention Notice will be served to seek confirmation of the use of these areas prior to making a decision to close this particular issue that has been raised.

    4) Additional Buildings On Site:
    There are a number of additional buildings that have been erected on the ICG part of the site which are shown on the aerial photographs. It is claimed that all additional buildings have been built under permitted development and that further planning permission is not required for these. Further evidence required to confirm that this is the case.

    Action:
    Invite the application for a lawful development certificate for those buildings.

    To confirm whether the additional buildings fall within the limits of permitted development under Schedule 2 PART 8 of the General Permitted Development Order (INDUSTRIAL AND WAREHOUSE DEVELOPMENT) or under the revised legislation dated the 6th April 2010.

    5) Pallet Storage:
    A pallet storage yard was found next to the motorbike training school. It is not known whether this is an ancillary storage area to the B2 use of the site. Further evidence required.

    Action:
    Information is required regarding this particular activity to confirm whether there has been a breach of planning control.

    A Planning Contravention Notice will be served to seek confirmation of the use of these areas to help establish whether a breach of planning control has occurred.

    6) Tyre Storage Business
    It was noted that next to the motorbike training facility, Two modular buildings are being used for tyre storage. Possible breach of planning control.

    Action:
    Information is required regarding this particular activity to confirm whether there has been a breach of planning control.

    A Planning Contravention Notice will be served to seek confirmation of the use of these areas to help to establish whether a breach of planning control has occurred.

  5. superman   September 29, 2013 at 7:51 pm

    WELL WHAT HAVE THURROCK. COUNCIL DONE, I WILL BE FORWARDING ALL CORRESPONDENCE TO THE APPROPRIATE PEOPLE,

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