Explosives site meeting over firm’s plans

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Residents will gather at a public meeting next month to hear about a company’s plans to store explosives near their homes.

Redcliffe International (Shipping) has taken over the former BAE-owned Royal Ordnance site at Heapey.

The company, which provide storage for hazardous goods, including explosives, has organised the meeting in a bid to allay any fears residents may have about its operations at the site.

A site visit, which was attended by Chorley councillors Gordon France, Margaret France and Kim Snape, who is also a Lancashire County councillor, took place on
Friday.

Coun Gordon France, who represents Pennine ward, said: “High explosive material has been stored there apart from 2010, going back to the Second World War.”

Among the explosives Redcliffe plans to store there, are TNT and gunpowder, explained Coun France.

However, he said he had no issues with what company was proposing to do at this stage.

He said: “Redcliffe are wanting to store less than when it was a BAE site.

“It was built for purpose. It’s just basically a site for storage. It would appear to me it’s just business as usual.

“The public safety of people in my ward is paramount.”

Coun Snape said: “It’s nothing for people to panic about. It’s just making people aware of what is there.

“There’s a public meeting in January with the county council, borough council and emergency services. People will be able to ask questions then.

“Everything will be explained at the meeting and there are all sorts of precautions with these sites.”

However, Malcolm Allen, of Heapey Parish Council, said: “Obviously, when the ROF was operating there, they did use it as a storage depot. The problem now is they have sold the water tanks off – they have sold the property off, which is being redeveloped.”

He added: “It depends on what the storage is.

“If there’s a fire there, where are they going to get the water from – given they had to pipe water from the canal for the Dressers Arms fire?”

Redcliffe has to comply with Control of Major Accident Hazards (COMAH) regulations. It has to notify nearby stakeholders and has put together a draft leaflet.

It says that “in the unlikely event of a major incident, it would likely be short-lived consisting of a loud bang with some debris throw.

“The emergency service advise to shelter immediately by going inside and closing doors and windows. Stay inside until you are advised to do otherwise and tune in to local radio or TV for information.

“The site siren should activate, but if you hear loud noises or notice any debris please shelter and contact the emergency services. Please note, the siren is tested on the first Wednesday of every month at 11am.

“Major incidents involving explosive storage sites are very rare.

“However, in 1976 an accident occurred at a chemical plant in Seveso, Italy, which led to more than 600 people being evacuated from their homes.

“This prompted the adoption of legislation aimed at the prevention and control of such accidents.

“As a consequence, the so called ‘Seveso’ directive was adopted in 1982 and has been updated twice since.”

The public meeting will take place on January 20.