SPENDING to manage the site of a dangerous former chemical factory has more than doubled for a local authority.
Flintshire Council is paying £60,000 a month to manage the clean-up of the former Euticals site in Sandycroft, according to a report. In August the bill stood at £25,556.
The figure includes policing of the area as well as removal of potentially harmful chemicals.
The report says the spending will go on for at least another six months.
Police officers have regularly been seen stationed outside the site of the former factory due to the public protection risk.
Potentially dangerous chemicals and caustic acid were left at the base when Euticals went in to liquidation in July last year.
Last month Euticals Ltd and previous site operators Archimica Chemicals Ltd were fined a total of £120,000 after workers at the plant suffered life-changing conditions by being exposed to a poisonous gas. Euticals admitted allowing chemicals to escape from the site and failing to notify the authorities when it occurred.
Flintshire Council has been removing the “dangerous” chemicals in a joint effort with other agencies since Euticals went into liquidation and the council hopes to recoup the costs from the eventual sale of the site.
But the revised spending figure was questioned at a council meeting by Saltney councillor, Richard Lloyd.
He said: “We seem to be paying for the public protection and security of the place, there’s a lot of money being spent here. All I want to know is how long it’s going to go on for.”
Flintshire’s head of finance, Kerry Feather, said council chief executive Colin Everett, head of legal services Gareth Owens and the environment department are working to ensure the site is made more safe. Discussions are ongoing and an update is to be given to councillors in due course.
The report adds Flintshire Council continues to be in discussion with the Welsh Government about solutions, roles and responsibilities regarding the site.
Queensferry councillor David Wisinger said money had to be spent to ensure correct management of the site.
“The council have to spend this money to put the site right and police it in case anybody gets on to it,” he said.
“It has to be done properly for it to be kept safe. You can’t cut costs with a job like this and the sooner it’s done, the sooner we’re rid of the bill.”
Cllr Wisinger said he felt the Welsh Government could have offered more support in the clean-up efforts and “spend some money”.
“It’s not the fault of Flintshire Council this has happened but we’re being left to foot the bill,” he said. “We can ill afford to be spending this amount of money.”
Mr Everett said: “The council had to act to protect the public and to manage and clear the site of accumulated chemical stocks.
“There is no government financial assistance made available to us, therefore we have agreed with Crown Estates the transfer of the abandoned site to the council at a nominal value so we can take both responsibility to complete the clearance of the site and recoup most, or all of our costs from its eventual sale.
“Projected costs of £400k have been assumed in our 2013/14 accounts, with costs of £145k having been incurred to date.”
A Welsh Government spokesman said: “The remediation work at the former Euticals site is being managed at the local level by Flintshire County Council in collaboration with Natural Resources Wales (NRW), Health and Safety Executive and other partner organisations."