Calls for inquiry into alleged contamination in Helsby

The River Mersey in Helsby
-Credit: (Image: Mike Amesbury MP)


Councillors will be urged to call for a public inquiry into alleged contamination in Cheshire when they meet next week.

Green councillor for Helsby Chris Copeman has tabled a notice of motion calling on Cheshire West and Chester’s chief executive to write to the Government over fears of contamination at sites in Helsby and Alvanley.

The motion, seconded by his Green Party colleague for Whitby Park John Roach and set to be tabled at a meeting of Full Council next Thursday, also urges the government to test two specific sites and conduct an evaluation of the former Commonside Tip to decide whether it should be declared a ‘contaminated site’.

The claims focus on carcinogenic polychlorinated-biphenyls (PCBs), a group of chemicals that were used as coolants and lubricants until they were banned in 1981 due to their links to health problems. They are known to cause cancer in animals as well as damage to the immune, reproductive, nervous and endocrine systems.

The latest call for action follows a recent BBC investigation where scientist discovered that a sample of mud at a site tested in Helsby was more than 12,000 times over the UK background level.

The motion states: “These highly toxic chemicals don’t degrade easily and are biomagnified up the food chain once released into the environment. They are extremely harmful to people and are concentrated in mammalian breast milk. Its thought that Orcas haven’t bred successfully off the UK coast for 20 years because of high PCBs.”

The notice of motion alleges that chemicals were deposited on a factory site in Helsby and an unlined stream valley hillside at Commonside in Alvanley. Commonside Tip was originally a small, steep-sided valley which was used as a landfill between the late 1950s and the mid-1970s but was later closed and has since returned to grassland.

It states there has been no effective remediation and leachate (contaminated liquid) from the site had flown down through a farmer’s field into Foxhill Brook nearby and then through Helsby to the Mersey.

The motion added: “This motion proposes that we call on the council Chief Executive to write to the Government calling for a public enquiry, and central Government funding to do full testing of both sites and conducts a proper evaluation of Commonside Tip to decide whether it should be declared a contaminated site.”

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