£40m, the cost of clearing Wrexham lagoon

Reporter:

Lois Hough

A MASSIVE operation to clean up a toxic lagoon plaguing Rhos residents will hinge on national or European funding.

It will cost a staggering £40 million to dredge 94,000 tonnes of liquid tar from the former brick clay quarry at Llwyneinion and four years to complete, a meeting was told.

The poisonous depths of the lagoon had never been fully explored until last year when a scientific investigation was carried out by environmental engineering specialists from Germany.

Four scientists from Baufeld Engineering took to the water aboard a special raft and extracted 73 samples of acid tar and lagoon water which revealed a high concentration of pollution hydrocarbons, poly-aromatic hydrocarbons and sulphur.

Funding for a clean-up has not yet been identified but council chiefs say they are making progress.

Council leader Aled Roberts, who represents Ponciau, told the Llwyneinion liaison committee meeting at Rhostyllen Parish Hall on Tuesday night: “We are working out a way in which funding is identified or the cost can come down.

“The funding would have to come from the Welsh Assembly Government or even the European Union. That is where we go from here really.”

Wrexham Council senior environmental health officer Sarah Evans said: “We won’t leave it as it is but it won’t happen tomorrow. It is going to the council strategic leadership team and from there we will have an action plan to move things forward.

“We will keep plugging away and when the finance becomes available we can do something about it.”

The poisonous tar, a by-product of oil refining, was dumped in the lagoon before 1972.

Acid tar like that found at Llwyneinion has been used as a secondary fuel by power companies in Europe but not in the UK.

The £40m clean-up cost could be slashed significantly if the secondary fuel is used by UK companies, said Ponciau councillor Paul Pemberton.

“Everybody is searching for different sources of power in today’s economic climate,” he said. “If we could get somebody to burn it in this country it could save us a lot of money.

“Seven years ago when I first got involved in this we weren’t aware of anybody in the world capable of doing anything with it so this is how far we have come.”

The committee will meet again on July 12.

See full story in the Leader

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