Beck is now clean after pollution leak

A CLEAN-UP operation following a pollution leak in Weaponness, Scarborough, is now complete.

The Environment Agency and Scarborough Council’s environmental health team were called to the area last month following reports that a black, oily sludge had made its way into the beck.

Residents in Weaponness Valley Road and Ashburn Rise also raised concerns about a foul, tar-like smell in the air, and were subsequently advised to keep their windows closed as a precaution.

Experts visited the site to take samples and an Environment Agency spokeswoman confirmed that chemicals found in the water were likely to have come from the former gas works site off Seamer Road, where digging work had been taking place.

This was also backed up by Scarborough Council, who are hoping to move their Dean Road depot to the site.

Andy Skelton, Scarborough Council’s head of environmental services, confirmed that samples from the stream matched those taken at the old gas works site.

The chemicals were found to be a mix of different hydrocarbons - tars and waxes - resulting from the production of “town gas”.

Mr Skelton advised residents to avoid the beck and keep their pets and children away from the area until the clean-up was finished.

However he added that this was simply as a precaution, as in the quantities and places found, the chemicals would not cause a hazard to health.

The operation to clean the stream and protect wildlife involved a number of absorbent booms being placed along the beck.

This was successful in ensuring that pollution did not travel down the water course as far as the Valley Bridge duck pond, which could have been affected otherwise.

The banks of the beck were also cleaned and the water is now running clear again.

Diane Hooper, who lives in Weaponness Valley Road, was one of the first residents to flag up the leak.

She said: “There doesn’t seem to have been any more problems.

“The environmental people have really been on to it, placing sandbag-type things along the beck to collect the oil.

“It must have worked because the beck looks a lot cleaner.

“I think some damage has already been done, as there are quite a few dead worms along the bank.

“But the smell has gone too, although it didn’t go straight away.”

Scarborough Council has a planning application in place to move its Dean Road depot to the old gas works site in Seamer Road.

Tesco is planning to build a new supermarket in Dean Road.