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the history at Thor
Thanet District Council
Housing & Community Services
Morgan Sproates, Contaminated Land Officer
Dear Mr Card,
RE: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT 2000
I refer to your letter dated 22nd Oct 2008, received by this Department on 4 Nov 2008, in which you requested information on `the history at Thor'.
To the best of my knowledge:
Thor Group Ltd is currently monitoring groundwater samples from boreholes on and around its Margate Site as part of a decommissioning process.
Chemical manufacturing operations ceased in September 2005. The company has been working with the Environment Agency and Thanet District Council for a number of years to establish the extent of its chemical footprint after 35 years of site activity.
Information from soil sampling and water testing is being gathered together to pin-point any chemical contamination that may have occurred over this period, in order to put a suitable remediation plan in place which will bring the site up to the required standards.
Solvent recovery and water purification processes have already begun and it is likely that this work will continue for a number of years to come
History of Investigation
In early 2003 Thor Overseas Ltd undertook an intrusive site survey in support of its application for IPPC permitting (a new licensing system for industrial processes overseen by the Environment Agency).
This involved testing the groundwater below the site and the soil across the site for any contamination, in addition to assessing the historical processes and current uses of the site.
As a result of elevated levels of certain materials (including a mixture of solvents) discovered during these tests, the company contacted the Environment Agency, Thanet District Council and the Water Authority in August 2003.
Since then regular meetings between these bodies, Thor Management and Ecologia Environmental Services Ltd (contaminated ground specialists) have been held in order to:
(1) Fully investigate the extent of the problem
(2) Regularly monitor the levels of contamination
(3) Plan and instigate the processes necessary to remediate the site
Origin of the Solvents
The processes that generated the solvents relate to production activities carried out on site from 1973. The site is no longer operating so no additional risk of contamination is posed.
The exact cause of the contamination is uncertain but there are various possibilities such as physical spillage, overflowing of collection tanks or leaking pumps.
As production and storage of chemicals ceased on the site approximately four years ago, the priority is to locate the areas of contamination and to remediate the site.
Remediation of the Site
The removal of site buildings this year has made it possible to fully investigate the area. This will allow the development of a full remediation strategy for removing ground contaminants, which is likely to include the removal and disposal of contaminated soil.
These measures will commence in 2009.
Remediation of the groundwater by biological treatment began at pilot scale level in 2006 and has gradually been scaled up since then. The treatment uses bacteria to break down the contaminants into carbon dioxide and water. This process delivers the treated water to foul sewer and, because of the continuous pumping of groundwater, should prevent any further migration. Please note, the direction of migration is away from public water supply abstraction wells.
The scaling-up of the process will continue until a sustainable treatment of groundwater is achieved. The likely duration of the water purification process is unknown at this stage.
You are advised that Thanet District Council disclaims any responsibility for any further use which may be made of any information which is disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act. The District Council does not warrant that any such information is accurate nor that it is free from copyright protection. If you wish to use any such information in a way that may infringe copyright, for example by making further copies or issuing copies to the public, you may need a licence from the copyright owner. If you are unsure of your position in this respect you should seek appropriate legal or other advice.
Housing & Community Services
Morgan Sproates, Contaminated Land Officer
Contact Officer: Morgan Sproates
In accordance with Section 17(7) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000, I must inform you of the procedure provided by the Council for dealing with complaints about the handling of requests for information and give you particulars of the right to make an application for a decision by the Information Commissioner.
The aim of the Councils Complaints Procedure is to provide a fair and impartial means of handling problems and for internal review of decisions taken in connection with requests for information under the Act. Under this procedure it is possible for decisions to be amended or reversed. Such reviews are conducted by officers of the Council who did not take the original decision and who were not otherwise responsible for the matter complained about. The target time for dealing with complaints is 20 working days from receipt or 20 working days from receipt of such further information as may reasonably be required to enable the complaint to be dealt with.
The Council treats any written reply from an applicant expressing dissatisfaction with the response to a valid request for information as a complaint under this procedure. A `written reply” is one contained in a letter or received by email.
The Council has provided this Complaints Procedure in conformity with the Code of Practice issued under Section 45 of the Act. The full text of the Complaints Procedure is included as part of the Councils Publication Scheme and is accessible on the Council's website (www.thanet.gov.uk); a copy may also be obtained free upon request.
There are also rights to apply to the Information Commissioner. Under Section 50 of the Act any person may apply to the Commissioner for a decision whether their request for information has been dealt with by a public authority in accordance with the legislation . The Commissioner has various enforcement powers available to secure compliance with the legislation, but will generally not make a decision if the complainant has not exhausted any complaints procedure provided by
the public authority in question. If you are unsure, make contact as the Commissioner may have discretion to investigate a matter.
Contact details are as follows:-
Information Commissioner's Office
Cheshire SK9 5AF
Where the Commissioner receives an application under Section 50, the complainant and the public authority will be notified of any decision made or the complainant will be notified of any grounds for not making a decision (eg. the public authority's complaints procedure has not been exhausted or there has been undue delay in making the application).
If you require more detailed contaminated land / environmental information on the above, I must advise you that the request will be handled under Environmental Information Regulations (Statutory Instrument 2004, No. 3391) for which scheduled charges will apply.