Residents living near Clitheroe’s cement works are demanding answers after suffering from weeks of an “unknown worrying substance” sticking to their cars and the windows of their homes.
People living around the Balmoral Park and Waddington Road areas of Clitheroe have been most affected with some now increasingly worried about the effect the substance could be having on their health.
If this stuff is sticking to surfaces, we are also breathing it in and people are now wondering if their health problems are related to itBalmoral Park resident Howard Blackburn
The substance, residents say, is impossible to wash off once it coats a surface, with the only solution being to polish a vehicle right down to the paintwork with a mechanical device or to use a mild acid.
Balmoral Park resident Howard Blackburn explained: “Residents first noticed this around six months ago.
“It doesn’t happen all the time, it depends which way the wind is blowing for it to affect us.
“However, during the past few weeks the problem has been really bad, so much so that Hanson Cement has told residents to get their cars professionally cleaned and they will foot the bill.”
He added: “If this stuff is sticking to surfaces, we are also breathing it in and people are now wondering if their health problems are related to it.
“It is a health and safety issue regarding our cars as it cannot be cleared off the windscreen. This is a minor irritation, but when it comes to people’s health that’s a different matter.
“Besides the dirt and inconvenience this is a serious health issue, several people, including me, are suffering breathing/sinus problems which may or may not be related.”
The problem is currently being investigated by the Environment Agency which is working closely with Clitheroe’s Hanson Cement to find the cause and a solution to the problem.
A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “The Environment Agency has received reports of ‘acrid dust’ affecting residents living near Hanson Cement in Clitheroe. We are aware of the situation and are looking to work with the company to resolve this issue. It’s important that anyone who spots pollution reports it to our free incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.”
Mr Blackburn, who used to work at the company when it was Castle Cement, as did his father, said: “I accept there is going to a bit of fall out from time to time and I understand the difficulties and processes that the company faces and that it employs a lot of people locally, but this is not acceptable.”
Responding to the complaints, plant manager Terry Reynolds, said: “We would like to apologise unreservedly for the nuisance caused to our neighbours by the escape of cement dust from the plant. The emissions arose from three unforeseen and unrelated incidents over the past two weeks which were quickly resolved by the site team and notified to the Environment Agency in line with our operating permits.
“Our over-riding aim is to remain an accepted and acceptable part of the local community, and I am pleased to report that we are about to start work on a multi-million pound project to reduce emissions from the plant.
“It includes installation of new dust bag filters and separators on the cement mills, a new gas scrubber to remove SO2 and other particulates from the kiln flue gases, and a major ducting replacement programme. We will also be improving the fabric of buildings, mills and silos to reduce environmental impacts.
“When completed, these improvements will make a significant difference to our performance. In the meantime, we will be doing all we can to ensure there are no further escapes of dust, and speaking directly to those who have particular concerns about our operation.”