Bawtry, Doncaster - Part IIA case sees High Court ruling on who is liable for contamination clean up

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Courtesy of Landmark Information Group

Seventeen families in a Coventry street faced an uncertain future and major disruption to their lives following the discovery of the highly toxic chemical that had polluted the land on which they lived. The one-acre site was previously owned by the Courtaulds chemicals and textiles group, which used it to store carbon disulphide (CS2) – a raw material in the manufacture of viscose rayon at a factory nearby. The site had a license for use dating back to 1902 and use ceased in 1967, after which the site was covered with tarmac and has since been used as a car park. It has had several
owners and the present one cannot be traced.

Dangers of exposure

Excessive exposure to carbon disulphide may affect the brain, eyes, heart, liver, lungs, reproductive system, skin and unborn children. The chemical is also naturally present in the environment at low concentrations and is explosive. Investigations into the contaminated land have been prompted by Coventry MP Bob Ainsworth, who remembers playing beside a pond near the unfenced area as a child.

A team began surveying the area with ground radar and the tanks were discovered in concrete bunds. The tanks had been emptied and backfilled, but were found to contain CS2 residues, with more found beneath the tanks and in the soil in the wider vicinity. Experts feared that the chemicals could have moved through the ground to affect nearby
residents in Threadneedle Street and instigated tests to verify whether the area was at significant risk.

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