Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Manston airport environmental risks

I have just received two letters from the environment agency to Kent International Airport obtained under the environmental information requests legislation click here and here to read them.

They make it very clear that the surface drainage for the airport is a very dangerous mess with some hard standing areas draining into soakaways very close to where our drinking water is being pumped out of the ground.

There are dangerous and unsuitable fuel storage facilities right on top of our water supply.

I don’t really think it matters that much if you are for or against the airport expansion the real question is; is it worth the risk of using the airport now before these problems have been made safe?

It is quite obvious that so far the airport has been developed wrongly and dangerously and that the understanding of the people working there of the risks to the water supply is inadequate.

Make no mistake here because of previous pollution incidents much of our underground water supply is unusable and the airport sits in the middle of what we have left.

Another factor mentioned is that the foul sewage capacity has been reached something that could be very expensive to put right.

I am beginning to wonder if the airport operator is trying to avoid expense and just go on as long a they can without spending the money necessary to put things right, it would seem likely that when they are forced to conform to even the most basic of safety requirements they will probably walk away from what appears to be an unprofitable enterprise.


  1. On the button Michael

    The pro Manston people have always avoided shared ownership of the environmental issues with the anti group.

  2. This has been going on for years. When is the Environmental Agerncy going to act? Or will they continue to sit on their hands until there is disaster? It's one thing writing report. What we need is action. All of this should have been properly discussed and sorted out before the airport was sold into the private sector. The problems all emanate from TDC's back-door approach to the development that has bypassed the planning system and environmental regulations.

  3. Personally I find it very reassuring that it was Infratil who initiated the correspondence copied to this blog, and I'm incensed by Michael's derisory comments about them. I think he needs to understand that finally we have a responsible operator at the helm who is taking a responsible approach to the airfield development. His comments about them are unfounded and out of order. Infratil employ expertise and seek advice for our mutual benefit, while Michael (the deranged shopkeeper) makes selective negative comments without the expertise to back them.

    His comments are so biased and his representation of facts so distorted that I'm beginning to wonder if this blog is just a cheap way of creating controversy with a view to promoting his commercial activities. Perhaps he's not so deranged after all.

  4. Brilliant work as usual Michael.

    Whether pro or anti, this is a concern. A report in the Daily Telegraph yesterday reported the lack of oversight when it comes to small local airports.

    I would say that your conclusion is bang on the money.

  5. Anon 19.22

    Be open. Where are you coming from exactly?

  6. West Cliff GB said "Be open. Where are you coming from exactly?"
    Where I am and where I'm coming from isn't the point. What matters is that public information is accurate. I have recently posted a comment on this blog that Michael has subsequently referred to as if it were fact. That is the quality of the information posted here.

    Personally I prefer to base my judgements on information from professionals, researched by experts, backed by reputation, financial commitment and subsequently subjected to due process and agreed to by statutory bodies. I'm deeply suspicious of information from part time armchair researchers.

  7. 20.03

    Publish the material you trust then ?

    The Thor and Sericol aquifer contaminations were made public by armchair researchers. But what was published by Michael was not the armchair man's opinion but the expert Environment Agency response he obtained.

    This surely is the area in which your blatant attempt to play the man and not the ball comes unstuck.

    Michael does not interpret the information he receives unless he publishes the original expert source.

    I resent you suggesting that Michael, a respected blogger, could be in any way irrtating.

    That is my job,

  8. Well said, Rocky! If your comment is accurate 19.22/20.03, I am very glad that we have a deranged shopkeeper and armchair expert in Michael and an 'Irritating Bloke' in Rockyracoon.

    A cavalier approach to Thanet's underground aquifer has been the hall mark of TDC for many years. You might be surprised to learn, as I did a few days ago, that when the expansion of Manston Business Park site in 1995 came before Council, members were not told that the direction of the expansion put the site into an SPZ 1 and slap bang in the middle of a water catchment and extraction area!

    With the EA supporting compulsory water metering in the South East and water bills that are already eye- watering compared to other parts of the UK, perhpas it is time for TDC to take the protection of our aquifer more seriously. As the LPA it has the ultimate responsibility, not the EA or Infratil and the signs are that it is now getting to grips with pollution and protection.

    The work that Michael, Rocky and Malcolm Kirkaldie have been doing in the past year has highlighted the problems and brought the whole subject very much into the public arena and to the attention of many Councillors. They have also educated and informed Councillors and you do yourself no credit by demeaning and trivialising their efforts, when the EA take the points they make very seriously indeed.

  9. Michael If 20.03 provides you some expert material he trusts then you be sure and publish it.

    Perhaps you could prevail on ECR to set up one of those site clocks of his.

  10. "...finally we have a responsible operator at the helm who is taking a responsible approach to the airfield development."

    So responsible, they take three years to ask the environment agency any bloody questions.

  11. Looks like the Airport working party report to overview and Scrutiny missed a few points?

  12. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  13. Anon 20.03

    You see, this is what's worrying.

    You clearly know something about the issue but you're also incredibly defensive.

    Professionals, experts, statutory bodies et al are fine and will be listened to by those on both sides of the debate. Trouble is, and this is where your case falls down, they are all too often lacking to step up to the plate and be accountable to the residents and businesses of Ramsgate.

    Who for instance is monitoring the aircraft noise? Who is ensuring the collection of fines? etc etc etc

    By all means hide behind your faith in the altruism of experts and due process but until the individuals and groups you so revere are seen to be looking after the interests of the town, I'd rather put my faith in those who are prepared to question, not just blindly accept.

    For the record, a lot of us are deeply suspicious of the motives of those who attack our right to defend our quality of life. As far as your cheap jibe about a commercial motive on Michael's behalf, I'd ask what exactly your main driver in all of this is?

    As the gate-keeper of Manston knowledge and fact, why not share it with us?

  14. 19.22 20.03 et al, I don’t think you will find that they initiated the correspondence I understand that you may be new to this problem and you may find reading some of the other related documents helpful in forming a more balanced understanding of the problem.

    I usually tend to double check things that I post but if you think I have published some sort of error please let me know and I will correct it.

    These links go to other related Manston documents, where I have doubts about the way the document was sourced or they are personal emails to me that I am not sure were intended for publication, I have removed the name of the sender and recipient.

    The only one that’s relevance may not be obvious to everyone is the last one, in which the EA say. “There is thought to be some control over the quality of water used for irrigation and crop washing, although this is not regulated by the Environment Agency.”

    Thank you for all the comment people, I know that there are strong pro and anti lobbies on the matter of the airport but one way or another we will either get an expanded airport or we wont, my main concern is that if we do it is as safe as it possibly can be. What I do find of great cause for concern is that we have an operator that doesn’t seem to be abiding by safety issues properly, if they were running a corner shop I would be concerned the fact that they are running an airport I considerable cause for considerable concern.

  15. West Cliff GB - Can I ask you to read my comments factually and devoid of any bias that you may have. I have not offered or reported on any knowledge or facts. I have merely expressed an opinion that may not concur with your own. You certainly have put your own spin on my comments when you suggest I am "the gate-keeper of Manston knowledge and fact". That inference is something that exists in your mind and is the essence of what I have been saying.

    Another example of this is when rockyracoon said "Publish the material you trust then ?" and "Michael If 20.03 provides you some expert material he trusts then you be sure and publish it". When have I ever suggested that I have any material? I read publically available material and form my own opinions, but what I don't do is publish my opinions as fact. Anyone with a legal background will know the reasons why fact is treated different in law to opinion.

    How can Michael (and others) knock Infratil when is was they who instigated the information he uses to support his criticism. As for Sericol and Thor, if I understand things correctly it was the authorities who discovered and acted on the polution. Whilst there is nothing wrong with bringing the info into the public domain, I doubt if this has done anything to enhance the situation.

    Oh, and as for my "cheap jibe" about Michael's commercial motive, I just thought it would make a good retaliation for his nasty little comment against Infratil at the end of the main posting.

    Keep going Michael, we all love you really. This blog is very informative, athough sometimes a little missleading.

  16. Michael, it appears our postings have crossed somewhere in cyberspace. I've had a quick look at the documents you have listed and although they say much about the problem I haven't found anything that has changed my mind about Infratil and their intentions. I would refer you to the Infratil Master Plan where the risk to the aquifer is recognised and also to the Environment Agency's letter when they say "We are pleased that the master plan makes reference to the vulnerability of the groundwater in the underlying aquifer." Surely, if you don't put any particular spin on this, it means that Infratil are taking the situation seriously?

  17. Souther Water are responsible for delivering potable supplies. What is their position?

  18. 12.54 I think the problem here is that all of this has been going on for 3 years, that is most importantly 3 years with no interceptor with soakaways being where they shouldn’t be and no adequate contingency plan for a major fuel spillage.

    I don’t think that Infratil would necessary be against my drawing attention to this problem, with the new polluter pays legislation they are leaving themselves vulnerable to a bill of many millions of pounds in the event of an accident.

    I think one big problem for them is that the EA hasn’t set out clearly defined limits to what can a can’t be done on the aquifer both in terms of discharge and expansion reducing replenishment.

    There definitely have to be limitations to the risks that can be taken and for them to run their business properly they clearly defined limitations.

    Jean the airport has reached a point in it’s expansion where it is mandatory for it to have an environmental impact assessment and Southern Water will be a statutory consultee.

    The problem that is that all of this takes a long time and what I am concerned about is that we are taking too much risk at the moment.

  19. Anon 12.37

    I quote from you:

    'Whilst there is nothing wrong with bringing the info into the public domain, I doubt if this has done anything to enhance the situation.'

    Great approach Anon. We're a bloody nuisance aren't we? Oh and thanks for the legal lesson. I'll file it under egg-sucking.

    By the way, without going into quotes from FR Leavis, it's impossible to approach anything in a purely objective fashion. It's the result of being a sentient human-being. You know, memory, experience, attitude blah blah blah

    Life ain't a balance sheet old chum

    Fancy addreessing the quality of life stuff in my previous post?

  20. I see that this Anon poster uses the word 'Spin' quite a lot. I suppose it's hard to leave the jargon at work.

  21. "KIA is currently operating at a fraction of its potential and is not a sustainable business at current traffic levels." Matt Clarke, Chief Executive Infratil, 5th February 2009

  22. West Cliff GB 02 April 14.20 said "Oh and thanks for the legal lesson. I'll file it under egg-sucking"

    An extremely constructive and intelligent comment.

    Also "Fancy addreessing the quality of life stuff in my previous post?"

    Not really, you have expressed your opinion which is what blogging is all about

    Anonymous 02 April said "I suppose it's hard to leave the jargon at work"

    Nothing to do with work, I'm retired. You appear to have had some kind of preconception when you read my posting!

    Michael Child 12.54 said "I think the problem here is that all of this has been going on for 3 years

    I think you'll find it's been going on for as long as the airport has been in existence. I have known the airport to be far busier prior to Infratil's involvment, but they appear to be taking the blame for what happened then.

    What bugs me is that now we have an operator with the experience and resources to bring Manston into the 21st century they appear to be held responsible for past development. Surely, no developer will spend vast amounts of money without some kind of assurance they will get their money back.

    As it stands, Manston does exist, Manston has operated at much higher levels of activity and it appears Infratil will not be able to develop further without satisfying the various statutory bodies. Bearing this in mind, Manston will succeed or fail on it's merits. Either way, things can only get better.

    Just for the record, I'm also concerned about the aquifer, I would be stupid not to be. But I try and keep an open mind on what's happening without any particular bias. Just because the developers and authorities don't publish every page of correspondence on the matter, or I don't agree with what they say, it doesn't necessarily mean they are irresponsible or not doing anything.

    West Cliff GB 02 April 14.20 said "Life ain't a balance sheet old chum"
    You're right, there is a hugh grey area between the black and white extremes in life. I just get annoyed when people try and pass off part of the grey area as either Black or White.

  23. Oh Anon,

    You're becoming tedious. Again, allow me to quote you -

    'Either way, things can only get better.'

    So by your logic -

    Infratil fail and things can only get better

    Infratil succeed and things can only get better

    Anon, whilst you tie yourself in knots as to whether to believe in hard empirical evidence or your rather more touchy-feely belief in destiny, those of us who are capable of debate and conversation and 'opinion' will carry on. If that's OK with you?

    BTW - Re. the Egg-Sucking comment.

    It's called meeting like with like.

    Fancy another go?

  24. West Cliff GB . . . just more rhetoric but no substance.

    My logic is:

    If Infratil and Manston succeed it will be in accordance with statutory requirements which, as can be seen by the published documents, seek to rectify current shortfalls.

    If Manston fails it will close down and the current problems will cease to exist.

    Yes, the problem can only get better through the involvement of Infratil. The worst scenario is for nothing to happen.

    As for debate, I'm all for it. To debate is to consider different sides of a question. All to often profesionals are denounced on this blog whilst their profesional etiquette prevents them from responding. That is not debate.

    I'm not really interested in the Egg-Sucking comment, it drags the exchange down to a personal level. I'm more interested in debating the Manston issue.

  25. Anon:

    I'll accept that I can do polemic when the mood takes me but rhetoric that was not. Look the words up if you wish, I'll wait.

    You still appear to lack the ability to substantiate your opinion or accept/repudiate mine.

    I'm glad that you've taken time to question your apparently bi-polar approach to logic / destiny.

    You're still working it through obviously so I'll cut you some slack for now.

    You're really not very good at addressing the hitherto mentioned issues arising from previous posts.

    Disappointing really as you've now come around to our way of thinking generally. I quote:

    'As for debate, I'm all for it. To debate is to consider different sides of a question'

    Glad to see that your stance has changed from earlier posts. What would you like to take me on with next?

    Pension plans?

  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  27. Sorry about the deletion, unsuitable language and quite a lot of children read this blog, I also have my doubts that it was West Cliff GB the tone didn’t seem right, I would recommend any of you to join blogger and sign on when you post to retain continuity of identity, otherwise when things get heated someone malicious can pretend to be you.

  28. West Cliff GB - Apologies for the delay and thanks for "cutting me some slack". I've been busy, but the wait is over . . .

    Oxford Dictionary:
    Rhetoric - "language designed to persuade or impress"
    Polemic - "a verbal or written attack"
    These meanings were copied and pasted to make sure I didn't get the spelling wrong because it appears I'm not very literate.

    Personally I still think "Rhetoric" is correct because I think you used "big" words like "polemic" as a means of impressing someone - possibly yourself. Of course, I could be wrong and you may have been attacking me but surely a capable debater wouldn't find it necessary to do that.

    Exactly which of my issues would you like clarified? I'll try and explain, in simple terms, anything I have missed. Although I have a reasonable education I try not to use "big" words because they tend to place me at one end of the intellectual scale. As for which end depends on personal opinion.

    Pension Plans? Not sure where that comes from. Perhaps it was because I mentioned I was retired. Yes I am, but I still have a long
    way to go before I reach pensionable age. Could this be another preconception that perfectly illustrates the difference between fact and opinion.

  29. Hi Michael,

    Not sure what was deleted but it certainly wasn't from me. I haven't been online since my last named posting (day off and went fishing yesterday) Will set up a blogger profile this weekend as you recommend. Whatever the offending post was, I'm pleased you recognised it wasn't from my fair hand.

  30. Hi West Cliff GB it is much easier than you expect to set up you may find this helpful

  31. It was claimed, by an anonymous blog contributor, that he worked for Sericol and that staff were told by the company not to let media (public) know about the discovery of the cyclohexanne leak.

    The leak was reported by Sericol in 1993 and it appears to have been undetected before that for thirty years whilst Rumfields was extracting.

    Neither Michael nor I claimed to have discovered the leak. Michael published the Freedom of Information Act response to me from Environment Agency. That is how it reached public domain. Ditto Thor.

    If authority had dealt properly with this leakage then why can they not state a figure for the amount of cyclohexanone (soluble by the way) which went into Thanet drinking water over thirty years until Rumfields was switched off consequent upon the belated discovery of the leak ?

    Look at the manner in which Sericol reported. They already had their lawyers with them.

    One conjectures that these same lawyers were consulted again in 1998 when the matter of allegedly forged or false qualifications amongst certain Sericol Staff became an issue.

    Did those lawyers fail to tell Managing Director Leon King that, because he had been given knowledge that forged or false qualifications was a related factor in the 1989 Deal Barracks bombing case, he was under Common Law obligation to report to police ? And that failure to do so carries life imprisonment.

    Would it not be fair to conclude that Sericol and their lawyers have not placed loyalty or the public interest at the top of their agenda ?

    What did Leon King do ? Severance pay to the employee. Severance and silence. Perhaps he did not want an allegation of negligent employment practice to compound any allegations re contaminating the aquifer.

    I am preparing a massive case file now to issue in High Court against Kent Chief constable.

    I will be copying in a letter to Roger Evans MP from the Minister at DTI in early 90s. It is the aftermath of some massive compensation cases won by the US Govt against British companies in their courts.

    I drew these cases to Roger Evans MP attention. Test technicians from British manufacturers had been put on a percentage of damages earner to move to USA and give evidence of British manufacturers falsifying product test records and selling sub standard equipment to US Armed Forces. The damges were huge and test techs who gave evidence would have been instant millionaires in the USA.

    But tgheir testimony to having obeyed management orders to falsify test records also applied to equipment supplied to our forces.

    That was then pre 98 a hanging job here. Treason.

    The interesting thing in the Minister's reply was that in effect that Market Forces had a role in defence of the realm by ensuring confidence in the market via faith in British quality assurance accreditation (how come the yanks just found us guilty then minister ?)

    If market forces really has a role in protecting the realm or indeed of protecting the environment then how come Sericol were not aware of greater production overheads than their competitors and hence wold have detected the cyclohexanone leak much earlier ?

    Let us look at ISO accreditation. Say of backup generaors. Well that is something I have looked at. The BSI act as accreditor for a manufacturer. Their accreditation does not extehnd to the factory non Iso registered supply chain (In this case starting by electronics control boards being subbed out for homework in the black economy)

    The accreditation is for the management system at the assembly plant.

    A waste of time.

    I recently accused Mike Harrison of having led a sheltered life.

    Blacklisting was the subject he introduced.

    It is for the sort of guy who refuses to falsify test records for torpedos bound for the Royal Navy if they really aint good enough. It is for the guy who refuses to falsify a factory test report for a backup generator bound for a hospital.

    The blacklist is not an isolated outrage. It exists in a context. The context in which employers take on those unlikely to be the type who would need to be blacklisted for moral courage.

    And that is how a man with bogus qualies could get a job whilst a load of qualified men stayed on dole ....

    Then along will come along a Nazi Nick know it all journo and blame the unemployed for the ills of the land.

    We have an over regulating govt if it comes to matters like the playing of conkers.

    But where are they on the serious issues like solvent in the water supply or nuclear near misses due to backup generator failures at nuclear plant (such as Hunterston B Scotland)

    The more serious the issue the less likely there is a paid public servant who will own the issue and deliver remedy.

    That is why this country should be grateful to guys like Michael Child.

    Because people like him step in as the grown up when a childish government can be top of the nursery pecking order for a nanny state but cannot fulful a truly responsible paternalistic role.

    Good on yer Michael.

  32. I know the Tyler of my Lodge

    I know my Master titled "Grand"

    But even he knows not

    The mighty Tyler of our Land.

    Brothers hence draw loyal breaths

    For fear that Tyler's mighty hand

    Check out Robert Graves Bibliophile ...

    Treason context.

  33. Wow, that's a lot to take in Rocky. Of course, most of it is yet to be proved.

    Thankfully, because we can't trust the childish UK Government and its agents, we have you and Michael at hand to sort it out for us.

    I note your mention of backup generator failures. If I'm not mistaken I may have met you a number of years ago. If that was you, what happened about your evidence of the IRA infiltrating Petbows, tampering with hospital backup generator wiring circuits so that they would fail after a few minutes when the IRA conducted a massive bombing campaign in London and the national grid supplies failed?

    Apologies if I have the wrong person.


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