Work ongoing to clear Hartlepool sand dunes of chemicals including cyanide

PLAN: Alastair Smith
PLAN: Alastair Smith

WORK on a strategy aimed at cleaning up an area of contaminated land is ongoing but environmental chiefs have confirmed two other sites have been given the all-clear.

It was confirmed in the summer of 2012 that a stretch of sand dunes at North Gare Sands, near to the former Leathers Chemicals site, was contaminated with traces of metal and chemical oxides including cyanide.

The area is popular with dog walkers but council officials have always stressed any risk to the public is extremely low, due to previous work to install a temporary clay cap along the 75ft stretch. The nearby beach area is not affected.

The council was successful in securing almost £28,000 from the Environment Agency for the capping work and for further investigations to be carried out so a strategy could be developed for the best way to clean up the stretch of sand dunes.

Senior officers say while the work, known as an options appraisal and remediation strategy, is ongoing, a ‘preferred option’ has yet to be identified and further reports will have to go back before councillors.

But two other zones within the site are not being classed as contaminated.

The whole site for investigation purposes was split into three zones; Frutarom Site known as zone one; the former Leathers Chemicals Site known as zone two and the sand dunes area, zone three.

A report said: “With regard to zone one and zone two, further action relating to controlled waters is not considered necessary.

“As there are no human health issues, these sites will not be determined as contaminated land.”

The council’s neighbourhood services committee discussed the developments, with officers praised for securing the funding.

Alastair Smith, the assistant director of neighbourhoods, said: “It is great work by the officers to get that money. There is great competition nationally to get any sort of funding.”

Committee members noted the report, and councillors were told that updates on the contaminated land would be provided.

The sand dunes are close to an area which was formerly the site of a range of industries including zinc and acid works, dating back to the early 1900s.