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After a 40,000 litre petrol spill – BP abandons clean-up plan

Opposition Liberal Democrat councillors in Luton are furious that eight years after a town centre petrol station leaked 40,000 litres of petrol into the ground very little of the contamination has been cleaned up and BP continues to pursue a low cost strategy while they try to sell the site and pass responsibility for the clean-up onto a new owner.

In 2001 a busy BP petrol station in Guildford Street in the centre of Luton closed very suddenly when the site manager discovered that 40,000 litres of petrol had disappeared. Initial investigations quickly confirmed that a petrol tank had ruptured leaking the fuel into the ground only a few metres from where a water company abstracts clean water supplies.

Liberal Democrat leader of the opposition on Luton Borough Council, Councillor David Franks, says that at first BP said they were removing the contamination but later admitted that they were not.

“For years they told us their operation at the site was gradually removing the contamination. Now they admit that all they have been doing for eight years is pumping water out of the ground near where they think the contamination is to prevent the dangerous chemicals reaching the bore holes from which Three Valleys Water Company takes Luton’s clean water supplies. They call this ‘containment’ and very little of the contamination has actually been removed.”

“Recently BP sent a representative to tell us what is going on. His presentation says their current strategy is to sell the site and pass the liability on to a new owner. In answer to a question he told us they do not even have detailed risk register for the site.”

“He gave us a copy of a report prepared for BP by Earth Sciences Consultancy Subadra. The report says that since 2005 no investigation or remediation has taken place. The same report queries why after almost eight years hardly any active remediation has taken place to clean up the site, but no answer to this question is offered.”

“It really is outrageous that BP should be allowed to wriggle out of their responsibilities. It is hard to see how they could deny responsibility for a 40,000 litre petrol spill and they should be made to clean it up.”

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