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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Contamination probe at former Penrith gasworks

An investigation has been launched into possible contamination at a former gasworks site in Penrith.

David Whipp photo
David Whipp

The two-acre site, on the Old London Road, is currently occupied by council contractors Enterprise. A meeting of the environment and economy panel heard that the Environment Agency had begun initial investigations.

David Whipp, chairman of a scrutiny review group on the site, said they were waiting for a response from specialist consultants AMEC. His final report will contain both the findings of the Environment Agency investigation, and an explanation of how significant they were, he said.

An early report from Mr Whipp was given to the panel and it warned that the overall picture could be a complex one.

“There have been many buildings and different processes carried out over the years as the site has developed,” he reported. “This has left many underground structures like tanks and foundations that affect the ground conditions and complicate the interpretation.”

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs recently published revised guidance on deciding whether land was classed as contaminated which resulted in changes in how Eden council must look at the site. A key consideration is whether any pollution would affect groundwater and rivers.

Mr Whipp’s report stated that if the site was found to have no significant pollution, then the council could begin to decide its future.

If, however, remediation work is needed, then it could be a “lengthy and complicated” process.

Councillors noted his report and it was agreed that the scrutiny review group would keep the council executive informed of the investigation.

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