Tioxide Europe has accused the Environment Agency of exaggerating the effects of last week’s hydrochloric acid leak from its Greatham works on the Tees Estuary.
The acid leak, described by the EA as ‘devastating’, resulted from a broken drain on the pigment manufacturer’s site. But a Tioxide spokesman claimed this week that the marsh was ‘getting back to normal already’.
The hydrochloric acid, which formed part of an effluent stream, was being discharged into the sea. Leaking effluent from a burst drain pipe ran through a storm drain which discharged into the marshland.
The leak was spotted by acidity monitors on the end of the effluent pipe. The company does not know how much acid leaked.
The movement of heavy construction vehicles on the site over Christmas may have damaged the pipe. But Tioxide insists that the ground was properly tested.
Tioxide notified the Environment Agency when it had isolated the leak, two days later, and the EA then served a prohibition notice on the use of the pipe.
* British Energy was fined £70,000 in the Maidstone Crown Court this month after more than 200,000 litres of red diesel oil from its Dungeness B nuclear power station polluted a local underground lake.