A WEST Lothian MP says the people of Armadale deserve an apology from West Lothian Council for failing to properly protect their health from pollution coming from Giscol Brickworks.
Linlithgow MP Michael Connarty says he has uncovered a letter from June 1992 where the local authority, which at that time was West Lothian District Council, wrote to Giscol stating they were not satisfied by the lack of proper ventilation for the new and existing drying houses at the works.
The letter was in relation to the company’s planning application for a single bay extension to the existing drying building at their Lower Bathville site.
In it, a planning officer wrote he was “dismayed” to discover that the building was almost completely without formal planning approval.
He added that it showed “once again a total disregard” for the planning system in general and the development control process in particular.
The council worker said the director of environmental health insisted that it would be a requirement that both the new and existing drying houses were vented through the large chimney.
Concern was then expressed by Lothian Health Board in January 1993 after they recorded peak levels of SO² in the atmosphere at Armadale of 396 microgrammes per cubic metre – levels sufficiently close to the threshold of 666mg³ to “give rise to concern.”
Mr Connarty also handed the Courier a letter from March 1993 from the owners of Giscol which he says shows “the particularly low priority” they gave public health.
In it they tell the council there is “no ventilation in the normal sense in the building” and that the air is “eventually discharged through the roof” when referring to the drying houses.
Mr Connarty said: “In effect, the polluted air was being forced out by fans at street level immediately adjacent to peoples’ homes.
“How could a public planning or environmental health authority accept such inadequate and unhealthy activity when it clearly had the powers to intervene to improve matters?”
A report was prepared by environmental consultants in July 1994 after concerns were raised about the pollution coming from the brickworks.
It stated that sulphur dioxide levels “exceeded the environmental standard on 11 occasions in 13 measurement periods” and that these concentrations were likely to have adverse health effects on local residents.
On hydrogen sulphide levels it said concentrations exceeded the adopted environmental standard on five occasions and there was evidence of damage to property caused by hydrogen fluoride.
The 1994 report also states “emissions from drying sheds at Etna Brickworks indicated sulphur dioxide and hydrogen fluoride were released in significant concentrations” and concludes “this pollution is likely to cause adverse health effects on members of the local population.”
Labour MP Mr Connarty said: “This is fairly damning of the failure of WLDC to insist on the correct location of units and polluted air extraction to higher atmosphere and cleaning and filtering of polluted air.
“As a results the local residents, particularly near Etna Brickwork were subjected to constant air pollution from 1986.”
And the politician called on West Lothian’s chief executive to apologise for failing to enforce the correct air venting and asked what actions were taken to bring about a reduction in the air pollution in Armadale following on from the 1994 report.
A West Lothian Council spokesman said the MP’s claims would be looked into.
He added: “We have received a letter from Michael Connarty MP regarding pollution issues around the Giscol works in Armadale. We will fully investigate Mr Connarty’s concerns before responding to him.”