Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

MINE PLANS UNDER FIRE; Residents Hit out over Scheme to Dump Waste

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

MINE PLANS UNDER FIRE; Residents Hit out over Scheme to Dump Waste

Article excerpt

Byline: MIKE BLACKBURN

RESIDENTS of Billingham have spoken out after plans to dump hazardous waste in mines under the town were given the green light.

As reported, a controversial application by NPL Waste Management to reopen Billingham Anhydrite Mine for the storage of non-toxic waste, including industrial ash was approved by Stockton Council's planning committee.

First mooted in 2007, the plans originally sparked massive opposition.

A 3,000-name petition was collected against the scheme amid fears the mine could be used to store nuclear waste - a failed proposal put forward by Nirex in the 1980s.

But after reassurances from NPL that no nuclear waste would go into the mines, pictured inset below, only 27 objections had been lodged by the time the new proposal was passed by Stockton planners this week.

If the scheme is now granted an environmental permit, the reopening of the mine will stimulate about pounds 20m of investment and create 30 permanent jobs and a further 50 during construction.

But shoppers in Billingham Town Centre yesterday were still not convinced, with every one approached by the Gazette against the plans.

Elaine Walker, 55, whose grandad worked down the former ICI anhydrite mines, said: "I think it's disgusting.

"I don't think they really know how dangerous the mines are. When I was at school in 1967-68 the long jump disappeared into the ground because of the mines!" Pensioner May Richmond thought the idea "scandalous" while her friend Violet Newcombe, said: "I'm not happy about them using it again. There's plenty of rubbish in this place already!" Staci Lorriman, an 18-year-old student, did not believe the reassurances from NPL, saying: "What people say and do are two totally different things. I think its ridiculous -why do they have to do this?" Her friend Anna Duffield, a 32-year-old student, added: "I have seen the plans, and I didn't think it was a good idea. The waste is bad for the environment. …

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