MORE than £25,000 of taxpayers’ money has been spent in a single month clearing up a Deeside chemicals factory mess.
Flintshire Council has been part of a clean-up operation at the former Euticals site in Sandycroft, which went into liquidation at the end of July.
When the firm went bust there were still about 4,000 cubic litres of effluent chemicals remaining untreated in bioreactors, and tankers full of caustic acid at the site.
Flintshire Council has been removing the “dangerous” chemicals in a joint effort with North Wales Police, Natural Resources Wales and the Environment Agency.
But now it has been revealed that the clean up costs reached £25,556 in August alone.
Flintshire Council leader Aaron Shotton said it was “unfair” for Flintshire rate payers to pick up the hefty tab, arguing the Welsh Government should foot the bill.
Cllr Shotton called it a “unique” situation, where the council was managing a situation because a private company had gone into liquidation.
“We have a duty to protect the public,” he said.
“But negotiations with the Welsh Government are ongoing to support the costs of keeping that site safe. I don’t feel it’s fair that local government should bear the costs.”
Cabinet member for public protection, waste and recycling, Cllr Kevin Jones, told members at a meeting that the council had a responsibility to ensure the site was safe but added, “I’m not saying anything untoward is going to happen there.”
He told members the council was “coming towards the last third” of the work there.
Flintshire councillor for Sandycroft, David Wisinger, agreed that the Welsh Government should meet the costs.
“The problem is nothing to do with Flintshire Council,” he said. “The Welsh Assembly Government should step in and pay for it.
“We’re on such a tight budget. We haven’t got money in reserves for this type of thing.”
Cllr Wisinger said it would normally be for the owners to pay but because Euticals had gone into administration, Flintshire had taken over for the safety of the public.
On August 6 the bomb squad had to be called to the site to safely expode a canister found there. It was taken to Ffynnongroyw beach near Mostyn where it was the subject of a controlled explosion.
Cllr Wisinger added: “There are chemicals there and they’re dangerous chemicals. Flintshire’s hands are tied.
“Flintshire have done everything right to keep it under control - they’ve had health and safety in, they’ve had the police in, they’ve had everybody in.
“They’ve done everything by the book.
“I know the Welsh Assembly is on a tight budget themselves but at the end of the day someone has to pay for it and Flintshire are not responsible.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: "We are in discussions with Flintshire Council with regard to the current situation at the site formerly operated by Euticals Ltd in Sandycroft.
"In terms of reimbursing Flintshire Council's costs, we have advised the council of the specific guidance in relation to our emergency financial assistance scheme which is available to local authorities wishing to seek reimbursement of costs incurred in responding to or recovering from large scale incidents.
“Any request for financial support must be made in accordance with this guidance."