“HUGE” Pollution in Whitehaven Harbour Should Be Red Light for New Mining – Will it?

 Image: Pollution continues to pour into Whitehaven Harbour – campaigners wonder if this  mine water pollution would be tolerated with no end in sight in harbours in the Home Counties.

Sent to Press today….


Whitehaven Harbour Mine Water “Huge” Pollution is Red Flag for new West Cumbrian Coal Mine.

Campaigners are urging a halt to new coal mining plans and redoubled efforts to find and control the source of the pollution which has been pouring into Whitehaven Harbour at least since December 2022. 

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole, a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign have, with the help of Tim Farron MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale gained sight of the data from the Environment Agency samples taken in Whitehaven Harbour on December 20th 2022.  

Campaigners asked two independent experts for comment on the data.  Marine Pollution expert Tim Deere-Jones said that: “I’d be very confident in raising coal mining as the source…It would certainly be relevant to demand that the mine owners, Env Agency, MMO, NWS, DEFRA et’ al’ get on the case and identify exactly where the contaminated  water came from, boreholes? faults in the seabed geology? old mine workings on land? If they refuse or fudge, it would be legitimate to postulate “in the absence of empirical evidence to the contrary” that all three (especially faulting and boreholing) were possible causes, that the new coal mine plan should therefore be abandoned and that clearly any sub seabed GDF in the relevant coal field was clearly and very strongly contra-indicated.”

Dr Marco Kaltofen a US based environmental scientist with 30 years experience in environmental, workplace and product safety investigations has said: “no wonder it turned orange, those iron levels are H U G E. Cadmium, ammonia, and other metals (including nickel) are all elevated as well. They should have tested for arsenic and mercury too, especially given the elevated cadmium; but they did not. I strongly suggest having mercury and arsenic tested in the water. A separate sample of suspended solids should also be collected and tested for all of these parameters (plus radium, thorium and uranium) in addition to the water sample already done.

The original material was likely highly acidic, but would be neutralized once it hits seawater.”

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole ask the following:

  1.  To reiterate our plea to the Coal Authority not to issue West Cumbria Mining with a licence to mine onshore at Whitehaven
  2. To remove Mayor Mike Starkie as the lead investigator into the harbour pollution. Mayor Starkie has vested interests in directing investigations away from the existing impacts of West Cumbria Mining’s borehole investigations and future impacts of mass void removal (for coal and nuclear waste) in the Whitehaven area.
  3. Dr Kaltofen strongly suggests having mercury and arsenic tested in the water as well as a separate sample of suspended solids collected and tested for all of these parameters plus radium, thorium and uranium.
  4. Allonby Bay has just been chosen by The Rt Hon Dr Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,as one of only three Highly Protected Marine Areas in the UK. These sites will be designated before 6th July 2023. The intention of the HPMA is to allow the marine environment to fully recover from any harmful activities. The HPMA at Allonby Bay has been established to complement the existing marine protected areas of which Whitehaven is one.   The contaminated water pouring into Whitehaven harbour water will have been polluting Allonby Bay just several miles away  since December.  Whitehaven itself is a Marine Conservation Zone.  Do these so called “Gold Star”  protections mean nothing? 

Tim Farron MP has listened to concerns and is “ pleased to confirm that I have written to the EA Manager for Cumbria concerning testing.  I have written again to the Chief Executive of the Coal Authority to forward the opinions you have received and I have written to the Secretary of State for DEFRA to urge her to investigate the efficacy of the Highly Protected Marine Area .”

Letters to Press – Unpublished. New Director of WCM bankrolled by Russian Government – Nothing to see here?

The following letters were sent to press on Monday – if anyone sees anything published please let us know- thanks!

Image: wikipedia

To Local Press

Dear Editor,

All MPs in Cumbria have supported sanctions imposed on Russian companies and oligarchs, with the supplying of arms to Ukrainian forces taking precedent over any peace negotiations.  There is however a strange anomaly in Cumbria with the appointment of a Russian government funded Director to West Cumbria Mining.   In December 2022 just a week after UK Government approved the first deep coal mine in over 30 years in the UK Owen Hegarty officially joined West Cumbria Mining.   He is founder and Executive Chairman of EMR Capital, the private equity company who put up the money backing WCM’s undersea coal mine near Sellafield.   He has fingers in lots of pies.  Back in December 2020 Owen Hegarty said “There’s never been a better time to mine coal on Russia’s Pacific coast due to  China’s blacklisting of Australian coal So the new Director is an opportunist then – nothing wrong with that you might say.  However this opportunist has no qualms about accepting money from governments.  In the case of Owen Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Coal, the Russian government, to the tune of at least £30 Million.    

The CEO of West Cumbria Mining Mark Kirkbride who appointed Owen Hegarty (WCM funder)  is also advising the UK Government on the “biggest environmental project in the UK” aka an undersea nuclear dump for high level nuclear wastes (prime area in the frame is next to the coal mine).   So much for national security – but hey we need the steel from Cumbrian coking coal to build Trident nuclear submarines to protect us from Russia who are also bankrolling the new Director of West Cumbria Mining.    Why has this not raised lots of questions from those MPs who are “horrified” by Russia?

yours sincerely

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign

address supplied

Letter to The Guardian

  • Dear Editor,
  • Following Government approval of the Cumbria coal mine the Guardian reports “coalmine is owned by private equity firm with Cayman Islands base” ( Sandra Laville, Environment Correspondent Thu 8 Dec 2022).  The story does not end there.  A week later on Dec 16th the owner of the private equity firm, Owen Hegarty was appointed as Director of West Cumbria Mining.  Owen Hegarty is also the founder of Tigers Realm Coal who are responsible for bringing coal mining to a previously coal mine free area – in Siberia!. 
  • Owen Hegarty the new Director of the Cumbria coal mine has not only generated massive environmental destruction in Chukotka and the Bering Sea area but has also been bankrolled by the Russian government to the tune of tens of £Millions playing fast and loose with the human rights of regional indigenous communities into the bargain.  This is a massive scandal.   
  • On the one hand Government is providing armaments to Ukraine against Russia and on the other it is approving an earthquake inducing coal mine near the worlds biggest stockpile of plutonium at Sellafield whose Director is bankrolled by the Russian Government.  The same Cumbrian MPs who cheerlead for the Russian bankrolled Director’s coal mine are also cheerleading War against Russia rather than peace negotiations.  It makes no sense.
  • yours sincerely
  • Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign address supplied
  • https://keepcumbriancoalinthehole.wordpress.com/2023/02/27/shhhh-dont-mention-the-russian-connection-we-all-hate-russia-dont-we/
  • Letter to the Daily Mail
  • Dear Editor,
  • Just a week after UK Government approved the first deep coal mine in over 30 years in the UK,  a new director was appointed.  Owen Hegarty was appointed by West Cumbria Mining on 16th December 2022.  He is founder and Executive Chairman of EMR Capital, the private equity company who put up the money backing West Cumbria Mining’s undersea coal mine near Sellafield in Cumbria.  He has fingers in lots of pies.  Back in December 2020 Owen Hegarty said “There’s never been a better time to mine coal on Russia’s Pacific coast due to  China’s blacklisting of Australian coal So the new Director is an opportunist then – nothing wrong with that you might say.  However this opportunist has no qualms about accepting money from governments.  In the case of Owen Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Coal, the Russian government to the tune of at least £30 Million.    The CEO of West Cumbria Mining Mark Kirkbride who presumably appointed Owen Hegarty (WCM funder)  is also advising the UK Government on the “biggest environmental project in the UK” aka an undersea nuclear dump for high level nuclear wastes (prime area in the frame is next to the coal mine).   So much for national security – but hey we need the steel from Cumbrian coking coal to build Trident nuclear submarines to protect us from Russia who are also bankrolling the new Director of West Cumbria Mining.    Why has this not raised questions ?  
  • yours sincerely
  • Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign
  • address supplied

Shhhh – don’t mention the Russian connection. We all hate Russia – Don’t we?

Russian Government has a large slice of West Cumbria Mining New Director’s Coal Pie.

Our government are ignoring calls for diplomatic negotiations with Russia to take precedent over increasingly dangerous (and lucrative) war games while endorsing developments with ties to the Russian government.  Makes no sense at all unless viewed through the business as usual at any cost lens.

Just a week after government approved the first deep coal mine in over 30 years in the UK,  a new director was appointed to West Cumbria Mining.

Owen Hegarty appointed to West Cumbria Mining on 16th December 2022 is no ordinary Director.  He is founder and Executive Chairman of EMR Capital, a private equity company who put up the £Millions to get West Cumbria Mining started.  

In December 2020 the headline in Financial Review boldly asserted “There’s never been a better time to mine coal in Siberia” “Mining industry veteran Owen Hegarty says his Siberian coking coal venture is poised to capitalise on China’s blacklisting of Australian coal, as it embarked on an exquisitely timed $43.5 million fundraising on Wednesday. ASX-listed Tigers Realm Coal has been mining on Russia’s Pacific coast for three years”  

So the new Director is an opportunist then – nothing wrong with that you might say.  

However this opportunist has no qualms about accepting money from governments.  In the case of Owen Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Coal, the Russian government: “The certificates of residency in the ADZ provide Tigers Realm with valuable benefits that include looser regulation, tax breaks and the ability to receive financing from Russia’s sovereign fund.”  The Beringovsky Advanced Development Zone (ADZ) was created by Russian legislation to provide an attractive investment and administrative framework for investors and companies in the Russian Far East.  

Without the Russian government’s largesse Owen Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Coal venture would have collapsed as according to  Greenpeace’s Unearthed blog “A plan by a small Australian-listed coal company to build two massive mines in the Russian Arctic is teetering on collapse as local indigenous landowners voice their concerns, the coal price continues to crater and banks remain wary of funding the project.”  The article goes on to reveal that “Before Tigers Realm Coal arrived on the scene, indigenous landowners – heavily reliant on fishing salmon – had endured a long struggle before finally winning legal title to an area of land around the Amaam lagoon, right near the site of the proposed project.  The community, which actively opposed coal exploration in the region, was stunned when Tigers Realm kicked off its drilling programme in late 2010.  The movement of heavy equipment over the fragile tundra impacted the protection zone of Amaam Lagoon during the crucial sockeye salmon breeding season.”  

Amur Tiger (Siberian Tiger -wikipedia) food includes salmon which breed in the Amaam Lagoon.

In April 2014 Tigers Realm Coal received 36 million Australian dollars from the Russian private equity firm Baring Vostok Mining and 16 million Australian dollars from the Russian Government’s Russian Direct Investment Fund (£30M in total).  According to Unearthed, Tigers Realm Coal (Tigers Realm Minerals Group TIG)  have even bigger ambitions for mining in the Russian Far East.  

Owen Hegarty’s appointment as Director at West Cumbria Mining hot on the heels of Government approval for the first deep coal mine in 30 years in the UK has raised not one eyebrow amongst NGOs or the press.  This is despite the financial backing of WCM by Hegarty’s EMR Capital (largely from unknown sources) and the large slice of Russian ownership of Hegarty’s Tigers Realm Coal. The May 2022 AGM report for Tigers Realm Minerals Group (TIG) lists Owen Hegarty as “Independent Non-Executive Director” and “Founder of TIG”.

West Cumbria Mining have not yet found time to add Owen Hegarty to their “Meet the Team”  despite the illustrious new team member receiving the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) in the June 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours List for service to the mining and minerals sector.

It does make you wonder about the Orwellian hate directed at Russia by our government on the one hand and approving a deep coal mine near Sellafield with Russian Government backed Director Owen Hegarty on the other.  

Also makes you wonder about the push for a deep nuclear dump for high level nuclear wastes, as the  government advisor for the nuclear dump is CEO of WCM Mark Kirkbride.  Kirkbride’s coal mine has been bankrolled by EMR Capital whose Russian government funded owner (to the tune of at least £30 Million)  is now an appointed Director of West Cumbria Mining.  

So much for national security – but hey we need the steel from Cumbrian coking coal to build Trident nuclear submarines to protect us all from evil Russia.  

Pull the other one its got bells on.

Its Grime Up North

The following blog post is by What Lies Beneath Rattlechain Lagoon from 2017 and is reposted here with their kind permission. The article is a deep dive into the Marchon site and the Anhydrite Mine that West Cumbria Mining wanted to dewater in order to use as the route into the proposed coal mine under the Irish Sea. The Environment Agency objected to that plan of dewatering the Anhydrite mine into the Irish Sea as the mine water is extremely toxic. So WCM said they would go above the Anhydrite Mine drift tunnels instead of through to get around their dewatering problem. However WCM HAVE carried out extensive borehole explorations to test the hydrology and geology and who knows what impacts that has had on the honeycomb of mines below Whitehaven – including the acid producing Anhydrite mine. Although it is kept under wraps one of the biggest users of acids is the nuclear industry. The tanker of nitric acid that overturned last year on country roads was heading to Sellafield but not one mainstream media outlet shared that fact with the public.

It’s GRIME up North!

Posted on February 14, 2017 by swanny

Albright and Wilson’s stench extended beyond Oldbury in the West Midlands to up North in the coastal area of Whitehaven. The chemical firm Marchon Products Limited had been based in the town for many years producing raw materials for detergents, and then expanding onto a disused tar plant before “the Quakers” took over there in 1955 and made it a subsidiary producing the detergent raw material STTP- Sodium  Tripolyphosphate. Solway Chemicals Limited, another subsidiary were also producing sulphuric acid from this year from a plant next to the Marchon site. Their main concerns were liquid fertilisers and sodium laurel sulphate- a toothpaste foaming agent.

STTP needed phosphoric acid as an essential agent, produced by “the wet process”. This method is outlined from a 1955 Albright and Wilson publication “The manufacture and uses of phosphorus.”

A £5 million sulphuric acid plant extension completed in 1967 made Albright and Wilson the producer of one tenth of the UK’s total sulphuric acid output. 1968 saw the start up of a new wet phosphoric acid plant at Marchon, replacing the two previous ones. Levels of chemcials produced at the site are reported to have been 350,000 tons per annum of Sulphuric acid, 350,000 tons of cement, 165,000 tons phosphoric acid and 170,000 of STTP.

Whitehaven harbour was utilised to deliver raw materials using specially built vessels, which finally ceased in 1992.

But around the late 1960’s with AW’s disastrous loss making Long Harbour venture, the rot appeared to begin to set in for Marchon works as a site. In particular the environmental issues associated with other Albright and Wilson sites began to show a familiar pattern.

Pollution grime

Pollution from this large site appeared like a sore pimple from an outpouring of froth associated with the phosphate manufacture into the Irish Sea. More dangerous were heavy metal laden effluent from the phosphate rock impurities. For many years it had been a source of constant complaint from residents yet Albright and Wilson batted these away as it always did with talk of “jobs being put at risk” and claims it met allowed consents- all the same bullshit they also used when complaints were made about their Oldbury activities.

One of the most infamous associations with this site is the ground breaking prosecution of the company by Greenpeace– at a time when they were a genuine pollution busting environmental charity and not devoted to the pet cause of a failed US presidential candidate.

In 1990 they successfully took Albright and Wilson to court, winning a private prosecution brought under the new Water Act 1989. Whitehaven magistrates fined them a poultry £2000 and greenpeace costs awarded of £20,000.

But Albright and Wilson were always a company in total denial about their disgusting environmental record and the following whinging, whining trite garbage is what they published in Albright World at the time, desperately attempting to convince their workforce that Greenpeace were in the wrong and that these environmental assassins were trying to close the plant down when they attempted to block the discharge pipe into the

The comments made by works director in this article are utterly delusional, “We believe the sample taken was not representative of our normal discharge” he wailed, with “profound knowledge” ,appearing to blindly believe that any transgression of the law should not apply to them. We also get those invented no/low risk “calculations” of theirs, which we have also recently seen offered by Rhodia in their defence of a white phosphorus/phosphine factory fire which were not accepted by the Health and Safety Executive.

We have a similar airbrushed version of events offered by Hugh Podger in his “Albright and Wilson The Last 50 years” and “Marchon The Whitehaven Chemical works by Alan Routledge.” The latter book is fine if you enjoy black and white photos of machinery and people standing in front of them viewed through rose tinted glasses, but the garish reality of long standing environmental pollution is not part of the colour scheme.

When Greenpeace later blocked the pipe discharging the grime into the sea, they were totally justified in doing so, and if I had been around then knowing what I do now about this firms activities, then I would have joined them to happily be arrested for taking a stand.

When challenged on their environmental record, Albright and Wilson and then Rhodia, basically the very same people, consistently were in denial about their activities being harmful and their blind arrogance as “scientists” believed they knew better than anyone else.

An excellent account of the general air pollution coming out of Whitehaven around this time is documented in a Guardian article from 1988, which is archived on the Fluoride Action Network website. It is entitled “a host of roasted daffodils” and details how plants were turned to dust by the factory emissions, as well as the longstanding human health risks which are still there and will be for many decades.

“Marchon is licensed by the North West Water Authority to pour 93 tonnes of uranium into the Irish Sea every year, as well as 27 tonnes of cadmium and 9.3 tonnes of arsenic. Tests carried out by Greenpeace show that the composition of radioactivity found in Whitehaven harbour precludes it being from Sellafield. For five years now, scientists have claimed that cadmium has been a cause of genetic damage. Large doses can destroy cell manufacture and repair.”

“In April over 100 parents and schoolchildren suffered nausea and coughing when a cloud of sulphur dioxide acid leaked from the factory and descended on them as they were leaving nearby Kells infant school. In July, 200 cars in the factory carpark were pitted and stripped of paint after a second acid leak.”

All of this appears to be of a very similar story to the anecdotes of residents living around the Langley area, and also the denials of an operator who appeared to care little about the health concerns associated with the toxic chemicals which it produced. That it “provides jobs for the area” that would otherwise not be there appears to be the standard political shillers comment for justifying appalling and blind eye turning health and safety faux pas.

Of the manner in which it treated its workforce:

“Only relatively recently, local people have become determined to know more about the effects the plant is having on their health. But employees are frightened to speak out for fear of losing their jobs in an area of high unemployment.

One former employee said he found that childhood asthma returned when he began working in the factory’s acid plant. He says the company never admitted that his work was the cause of his disease, but equally it did not insist he return to his job. The man, who still wishes to remain anonymous despite having left, interpreted this as a sign that the company knew it would be difficult to deny his work was the cause. But there are constant denials by the company when the plant is blamed for ill health.”

What one can also take from this is the not uncommon observation concerning how Albright and Wilson treated its community with contempt from a resident who states in the article

“The medical profession has not been remarkably active in trying to identify the source of high asthma, foetal mortality, and genetic abnormality rates which have been found in and around the town. During the past five years rare syndromes have been found in babies born in Whitehaven and nearby Mirehouse. These diseases have led to either mental disorders, cleft palates, cysts, or facial abnormalities. There are also abnormal levels of severe spasticity, premature births, the transposition of body vessels, poor speech, and acute myloid leukaemia…..

….Sheila Smith, who runs the family advice centre in nearby Monkwray, said: ‘It’s the accountability which in some ways concerns me more than the pollution. The thing we have found quite amazing is that Albright and Wilson is a totally closed organisation.

‘Trying to get the company involved in the community is impossible. You just meet with closed doors. As a result, there’s an awful feeling of apathy and despair. The health authority also turns a blind eye, even though this part of the town has the highest death rate from heart disease among women in the northern region, and is among the worst for general health.’

One can perhaps see why after the Greenpeace incident and concerns like this, Albright and Wilson attempted a charm PR offensive with “open days“, which of course, were more like an advertisement for what they made than a factory tour of any real benefit to the put upon polluted.

Political grime.

As at their Oldbury headquarters in the West Midlands, it is apparent that Albright and Wilson at Whitehaven were well represented in political circles. The May/June 1986 edition of Albright World reported that the new mayor of Copeland- the borough in which the works sat, was an employee, and not only that but boasted that he was the fourth employee mayor of that pocket borough to hold the title!

There may well have been others that followed him, but how can anyone really believe that having top councillors onside- especially in matters relating to planning and environmental concerns was not likely to be a very beneficial arrangement for all concerned- with protecting the company polluter?

And then there is the former MP – John Cunningham- now “Baron Cunningham of Felling”. Between 1970-1983 he was MP for the Whitehaven constituency, which then became the Copeland constituency where he would serve another 22 years as the elected representative.  He deserves a special mention in how a political friend “who never worked for the company” was actually working for it for many years.

The following article appeared in Albright World, where the then fledgling Labourite was joined on a factory tour of the works by the useless former Prime Minister Jim Callaghan who held talks with union officials and managers- Orwell’s “man to pig and pig to man” comes to mind here .

“He told them that Dr Cunningham, who was his Parliamentary Private Secretary during Mr Callaghan’s government, was “constantly preaching about A+W’s virtues and is a very good advertisement for you”

With this type of ear to the top man, one wonders what the good doctor was actually diagnosing him with about the wretched company, but it is plain to see in the subsequent years that he persisted in this “advertisement” shillery for AW.

“Bottom’s up” champagne socialist

In 1980, he would go on to become a paid “industrial policy adviser” for Albright and Wilson, a title he held throughout his time as shadow environment secretary until he  became Minister for Agriculture, fisheries and food under the odious Blair administration. So back to pouring “advertisements” into the ear of the premier. Of course this would be short lived, as Albright and Wilson by now were  in terminal decline, so his advice cannot have been of much use in the 80’s 


With takeover assured, Rhodia did not waste much time in flogging off the Whitehaven site to “Huntsman”- another metamorphosising pillock of a chemical manufacturer. In June 2005, time was called on the entire site, as it shut down for good, with Rhodia diverting its operations abroad.

There are some interesting footnotes to the fallen polluting behemoth of Whitehaven available on the internet.

An excellent urban exploration of the way in which Albright and Wilson/Rhodia and its associates left the site before demolition, almost as though it was Chenobyl can be found HERE.  Another on the excellent 28 days later website gives a ghostly tour of the abandoned factory.

from 28 days later- a discarded map of the AW Whitehaven site

It is clear that this post apocalyptic scenario is one very familiar with Albright and Wilson and the manner in which it operated as a company- especially at its demise into the French hands of Rhodia.

Uncharacterised chemicals of all types and colours appear to be scattered everywhere mixing freely with mould alongside office equipment and personal identification tags serving as wafers in the toxic cream. How little the company must have valued the personal data protection of its staff to leave the site such as this!

freedom of information request from Sarah Turnbull in 2012 asks the following.

Clearly the Environment agency will be monitoring this area for many years to come  this, one of the many Albright’s bastards.

From the perspective of an ex worker at the site there is a rather whimsical ditty concerning the demise of the works at Whitehaven which can be found below, but it is somewhat unusual for the usually brainwashed ex workers of an Albright and Wilson company to be somewhat critical of both the employer and the union facilitating the destruction of the operation. It is quite clear that longstanding Marchon workers resent Albright and Wilson and Rhodia’s control of operations, as it began to unravel. Ultimately, with the type of chemicals that it made and which will no doubt persist for several decades, what one “couldn’t believe what they’d done” is how they managed to get away with it for so long.

And so to the inevitable talk of “regeneration” from toxic crap. We have this document entitled “West Whitehaven Draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) February 2012″, which can be read at the link below.


So when politicians are no longer able to spin their PR about jobs being vital from polluting industry, thus they like to play lego land and  still pretend that the toxic legacy does not appear by wanting to build “quality homes” on or near to contaminated land. We do however get the truth of the past in this document about this dirty polluting shambles of a chemical site too late from this self serving council, now that its chemical factory paymasters are no longer  there in situ.

“The public perception of the area locally is often poor due to the recent history of the industrial / chemical activities of the Marchon plant.  The environmental impacts of the production processes resulted in unpleasant odours, gas clouds, and residue deposits on cars and gardens, as well as ground water contamination leading to foam licks and radioactive deposits in the sea.  Visual impacts, noise and lighting pollution affected local residential amenity as did the heavy road traffic generated by the many tanker trips taking raw materials to the site from the harbour.”

Now when did Jack Cunningham and co ever admit to any of this at the time?

There is a parliamentary by-election in the Copeland constituency looming with the departure of Cunningham’s successor as MP there Jamie Reed who is taking up the position of  “head of development and community relations” at the Sellafield Nuclear plant in the area. One could strongly argue that this former PR man for the company never left the job during his time as an MP. Perhaps voters should look very closely at the cv’s of the candidates for any grimy links with longstanding pollution.

Read more at Rattlechain Lagoon

Fake News and Journalistic Irresponsibility

The Coal Mine is generating reams of copy in the press and much grandstanding by so many.

One comment by a reporter I spoke to back in 2018 caught my eye. Back in 2018 I described to the reporter the coal mine in all its glory – the carbon and methane emissions, the loss of ancient woodland and most importantly the proximity to Sellafield and the mine’s location under the radioactive wastes on the seabed ( we didn’t know then that the CEO of the coal mine was going to be employed as nuclear dump advisor to Govnt). This reporter was literally begged to actually report on the Cumbria coal mine. His reply to me was: “we shall circle round to the coal mine when the decision has been taken.” The Fake News is that the Nuclear aspects of this coal mine – the dangers and the cronyism are still being wilfully hidden from public view.

The reporter was then the Environment reporter for the Guardian. This is my reply to his tweet today

Coal Boss Compiles Lastest Nuclear Dump Report for Government who have just Approved his Coal Mine.

High Level Cronyism and Corruption – Coal and Nuclear Waste

Still not raising an eyebrow in the press or by NGOs is the fact that the coal boss Mark Kirkbride is the Government’s key advisor on the dumping of nuclear wastes in big holes.

The latest Committee on Radioactive Waste Management report went online yesterday compiled by non other than CEO of West Cumbria Mining, Mark Kirkbride.

The government has just approved his earthquake inducing deep coal mine in the area of the Irish Sea near Sellafield where the GDF is proposed. This stinks of Government cronyism and corruption but hey – whose looking?


Letter in the Morning Star Exposes Links Between Subsea Coal Mine and Subsea Nuclear Dumping

The following message has come from peace campaigner Rae Street:

The UK Morning Star published this letter on 31st December

All the best for a peaceful New year to everyone and looking towards a nuclear free future,


Dear Editor,

In response to your recent correspondents, I would say that the proposed coal mine in Cumbria shows that the government is not serious about tackling the climate crisis. Yes, it would provide jobs in the area but a much better answer is to provide jobs in the infrastructure for genuine sustainable energy such as wind turbines and solar panels – according to the Local Government Association that could create 6,000 ‘green’ jobs in Cumbria by 2030. Alok Sharma, who led the UN Conference on Climate Change in Glasgow said:

*85% of coal produced is for export

*Two major UK steel producers have said they won’t use this coal as they are moving to hydrogen

*The government’s own Climate Change Committee has said the mine would increase UK CO2 emissions by 0.4 million tonnes with clear implications for our legally-binding carbon emissions budgets.

The mine will be a backward step in UK climate action – and will damage the UK’s international climate reputation. Once again it would be the government saying to other nations, ‘Do as I say, not as I do’.

And course with this government there is always an ulterior motive. The CEO of the coal mine is Mark Kirkbride, who has now been appointed to the Government Committee on Radioactive Waste Management to advise on the UK Government’s nuclear dump plans. He was the advisor for the hugely damaging seismic blasting which took place in August in the Irish Sea to ‘investigate’ the complex geology for a nuclear dump. This blasting is also likely to have had a disastrous effect on the sea wild life. The area of the Irish sea where the seismic blasting took place overlaps the area of the proposed coal mine.. As the Coal Mine Planning Inspector warned in his recommendation to the government stated: the risk of a seismic event cannot be ruled out’. So the CEO of a seismic inducing coal mine near Sellafield is employed as an advisor on radioactive waste burial in a Geological Disposal Facility. So not only will the coal mine produce huge carbon emissions, but it looks as if the deep voids which would come with the coal mining are being sought for a radioactive waste dump with potential earthquakes in the same area.

Yours sincerely,

Rae Street

Coal Mine Boss Should be Sacked from Position as Government’s Nuclear Dump Advisor

Many will have heard by now the awful news that the coal mine in Cumbria has been approved by Government. What the public have not been made aware of despite the banner headlines is the fact that the coal mine CEO Mark Kirkbride is advising Government on the UK Nuclear Dump plan.  This nuclear dump advice includes “investigation techniques” which has started with the seismic blasting.

To Take Action Now – There is a petition to Sack the Coal Boss from his Government Advisor Role for the UK’s Nuclear Dump.   https://www.change.org/p/sack-cumbrian-coal-mine-boss-from-government-advisor-role-for-nuclear-dump

Radiation Free Lakeland’s Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole campaign has delayed the plan repeatedly with the amazing help of lawyers Leigh Day.

This is not the end of the story.  

The mine still has to win approval from the Marine Management Organisation in order to mine under the Marine Conservation Zone,  under the Irish Sea.  

West Cumbria Mining have however told the Planning Inspector “We may not need a Marine Management Organisation Licence.”

We will be fighting to ensure that the coal mine does not bypass this regulatory process (as has happened with the seismic blasting to test the geology for the nuclear dump as advised by the coal boss and carried out under “exemption”) 

We continue to be utterly appalled by the lack of attention on:  

a) the earthquake potential of this coal mine which is so very close to the worlds largest stockpiles of plutonium at Sellafield, and

b) the appointment of the coal mine CEO Mark Kirkbride as Government advisor on investigation techniques, costings and construction of a very deep hole (Geological Disposal Facility) for heat generating nuclear wastes in the vicinity of the coal mine.

The Planning Inspector in his recommendation to Government stated : “the risk of a seismic event cannot be ruled out” ( Report to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities by Stephen Normington BSc DipTP MRICS MRTPI FIQ FIHE an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State Date 7 April 2022- 21.245.)  Radiation Free Lakeland/Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole quoted extensively at the Planning Inquiry from expert reports showing that the coal mine would be “likely to induce seismicity”.   The Inspector however concluded that due to the lack of technical expert witnesses from NGOs on earthquake risks to Sellafield  “I consider the potential impacts in respect of future seismic events should be afforded limited weight.”  

It is beyond belief that the CEO of a seismicity inducing coal mine near Sellafield should be employed by Government as an “invaluable”  advisor on nuclear waste burial in a Geological Disposal Facility. The coal mine is in the middle of two target areas for a GDF.  Radioactive Waste Management (now Nuclear Waste Services) who are advised by the coal mine CEO signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the British Geological Society in June 2020.   The BGS are the very people who should be speaking out about the seismic impacts of the coal mine near Sellafield but they are collaborating with the CEO of the coal mine on nuclear waste dump plans.   This is many headed cronyism at the highest level.  

To Take Action Now – There is a petition to Sack the Coal Boss from his Government Advisor Role for the UK’s Nuclear Dump.   https://www.change.org/p/sack-cumbrian-coal-mine-boss-from-government-advisor-role-for-nuclear-dump

With all Best Wishes


Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (and Nuclear Waste Out) – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign


“We urge all those speaking against the mine at the public inquiry to give at least a mention to the fact that this coal mine would mine out voids faster than any previous coal mine in UK history and would induce earthquakes and cause subsidence in the Irish Sea and Sellafield area.”

“Earlier this year, the first batch of waste was safely removed from one of the most hazardous sites at the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site. “Perhaps they’re going to bury it down the pit,” says a resident with characteristic Cumbrian grit.”


CEO of West Cumbria Mining appointed as Nuclear Waste Dump advisor https://www.gov.uk/government/people/mark-kirkbridg

“The collaboration between both organisations is intended to support improved environmental outcomes relating to a UK geological disposal facility (GDF).”

BBC still don’t want to hear about earthquakes, Sellafield or the coal boss’ advising government on nuclear waste dumping

As representative of the first group opposing the coal mine I was phoned up by Radio 5 Live last night to expect a call this morn at 7.35am to talk on their breakfast show.

The researcher wanted to know what I would be highlighting – I said we had already lobbied to have a traffic light system for earthquakes (brushed aside by the Planning Inspector as part of the conditions on the coal mine) and we would now push hard for that as coal produces more earthquakes than fracking.

Unlike fracking there is no traffic light system in place to halt coal operations should earthquakes occur and that this is especially important as the coal mine is just a few miles from Sellafield.

Also that the coal boss is the government’s nuclear dump advisor appointed to the Committee on Radioactive Waste management in 2019 to deliver a Geological Disposal Facility. This should make the Govnts approval of the coal mine null and void ethically (cronyism) and possibly legally- anyway -needless to say they havn’t rung up but have gone with the ‘safe pair of hands’ of Friends of the Earth who keep to the safe narrative of climate, steel and jobs.

I was also going to say that the coal mine would produce 400,000 tonnes of CO2 a year – this pales to the nuclear waste industry’s 1,046,950 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) a year – from the NDA “Using Greenhouse Gas Protocol methodology, the total NDA group carbon footprint for 2019/20 is 1,046,950 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e)” and the coal boss has been appointed to advise that industry!

The researcher said he didn’t know about all that and agreed it was scandalous – the BBC obviously still don’t want to expose the full truth about the coal mine which is great for our nuclear obsessed govnt..

A Plea to Michael Gove Secretary of State:”Marine Conservation Zone or a Nuclear Sacrifice Zone Courtesy of Coal Mine CEO?”  

The map above is a collation of the GDF Partnership maps of South, Mid Copeland and Allerdale which are never shown as a coherent whole. We have also included the coal mine and Sellafield – also not shown on the official GDF maps. As you can see the coal mine sits directly between the GDF (aka nuclear dump) “search areas” upon which the coal mine CEO is advising UK Government.

5th December 2022

Dear Secretary of State Michael Gove MP,

We wrote to you back in July to thank you for creating the Marine Conservation Zone above the proposed subsea Cumbria Coal Mine.

As a protector of ocean life legislating to “safeguard precious and diverse sea life for future generations to come”  we are sure you must be as horrified as we are that the first round of nuclear waste Geological Disposal Facility “investigation” of the subsea area adjacent to the coal mine in Mid and South Copeland has resulted in damaging consequences to marine life. 

Nuclear Dump Seismic Blasting in the “Protected” Irish Sea  -“Invaluable Advisor” CEO of West Cumbria Mining 

The seismic blasting which took place throughout August with blasts of noise every five seconds, 24 hours a day, seven days a week for 20 days was advised by coal boss Mark Kirkbride who has been appointed to the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management as “invaluable advisor” on nuclear dump (aka Geological Disposal Facility) “investigation techniques” and “costings”  The nuclear dump “investigation technique” of seismic blasting coincided with the deaths of harbour porpoise, seals and hundreds of jelly fish along the West Coast of Cumbria.  These deaths have been photographed and reported to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme- Dead Strandings.  Over 50,000 people signed a petition opposing the “investigation techniques” as advised by coal boss Mark Kirkbride.   1000 m deep boreholes into the seabed into a methane rich and heavily faulted area of the Irish Sea are the next stage in the GDF “investigations” plan.  

Context: First Opposition to the Coal Mine Was from Nuclear Safety Campaigners

To put this into context, the first opposition raised against the coal mine was back in 2017 by Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (and Nuclear Waste Out) a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign. Over the last five years our vigorous and dedicated opposition to the coal mine’s inevitable nuclear impacts has been airbrushed out of the public debate.   The sheer bloody minded recklessness of proposing an earthquake inducing coal mine close to Sellafield’s growing stockpiles of high level nuclear wastes has been carefully kept out of the public arena despite our constant lobbying of NGOs and the media to flag this up.  

Climate Noise and Nuclear Silence

Climate, jobs and need for steel are valid issues but to stay utterly silent on nuclear impacts is morally incoherent and myopic.  Deep coal mining produces more earthquakes than fracking and this coal mine is just a few miles from the UKs stockpile of plutonium.  This is not virtue signaling on our part, it is a desperate plea to you to have a mind for nuclear safety.  Damage to Sellafield’s ponds from coal mine induced earthquakes and the predicted subsidence of the Sellafield mud patch above the subsea  coal mine would result in release of the “historic” radioactive wastes.  Cumbria would not not be alone in bearing the brunt of nuclear fallout which would extend to Europe.  Sellafield’s ponds of high level wastes would not be forgiving of deep coal mine induced earthquakes.

What we never could have imagined in a million years when we first started campaigning against the earthquake inducing coal mine near Sellafield was that the coal mine CEO, Mark Kirkbride, would be appointed by Government to advise on the digging of a very deep hole in which to dump heat generating nuclear wastes.

The Copeland and Allerdale “search areas” for a Geological Disposal Facility are directly either side of Mark Kirkbride’s coal mine, which should have raised a multitude of questions from mainstream NGOs and the media – but the silence has been total.

Geological Instability

Back in the 90s there was an inquiry which halted the government’s “NIREX” plan to bury intermediate level nuclear wastes deep underground on the Cumbrian coast near Sellafield.  In 2007 the government again returned to Cumbria for a second go, this time to try putting even more dangerous high level wastes deep underground.  The NIREX Inquiry Lead Inspector Chris McDonald wrote in 2007 that “..10 years ago the nuclear industry had not found a way of maintaining the stability of that geology when physically exploring the underground site. This difficulty was linked to the second issue of “imperfection”, because the imperfection consists of simply failing to meet the internationally agreed criteria on the suitability of rocks for nuclear waste deposit. The site should be in a region of low groundwater flow, and the geology should be readily characterisable and predictable, whereas the rocks there are actually of a complex volcanic nature, with significant faulting”   The rocks haven’t changed, the coal mine and surrounding subsea area of the Irish Sea is on numerous faults but now as well as creating instability by “exploring the site” there would also be instability created by the massive void of a deep earthquake inducing coal mine immediately adjacent to the nuclear dump plan.  The nuclear dump plan which, by the way, is advised by the same geological instability creating coal mine boss.  This is mind blowing stuff.

Corruption of Governance?  

The fact that UK government is taking advice from the coal mine boss on nuclear dump plans while UK government also has the last say on the coal mine is a corruption of governance.   Approval of CEO Mark Kirkbride’s coal mine while KIrkbride is also the governments key nuclear dump advisor would signal the triumph of vested nuclear interests over democracy.   Approval of the coal mine would confirm deep and well founded suspicions unreported in the press or flagged by mainstream NGOs that facilitating deep mining for a 25km square, 1000 metre deep, subsea nuclear dump immediately adjacent to the smaller shallower subsea coal mine was the goal all along.   

Marine Conservation Zone or Nuclear Sacrifice Zone Courtesy of Coal Mine CEO?  

We urge you to honour your hard won Marine Conservation Zone in the Irish Sea and even more importantly to honour government commitments to ensure nuclear safety by halting the coal mine plan.  A green light for the earthquake and subsidence inducing coal mine would signal a massive red light for nuclear catastrophe. 

We plead with you -Don’t do it – Do not approve the UK nuclear dump advisor’s coal mine.

yours sincerely

Marianne Birkby

Keep Cumbrian Coal in the Hole (and Nuclear Waste Out!) – a Radiation Free Lakeland campaign



Marine Conservation Zones: “The UK is already leading the rest of the world by protecting over 30% of our ocean – but we know there is more to do. Establishing this latest round of Marine Conservation Zones in this Year of Green Action is another big step in the right direction, extending our blue belt to safeguard precious and diverse sea life for future generations to come.” 

Michael Gove MP

Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

In office

11 June 2017 – 24 July 2019


Petition – Save the Whale and the Snail from Nuclear Waste Services Blasting the Irish Sea


CEO of West Cumbria Mining – Key Advisor for the Committee on Radioactive Waste Management

Letter from NIREX Inquiry Lead Inspector Chris McDonald


Flaws in search for nuclear waste site

 Thu 28 Jun 2007

 As the lead inspector (now retired) of the 1995-96 public inquiry into the proposed nuclear waste facility in west Cumbria, I was concerned by a couple of points in your piece on the new site search (Report, June 26). The relevant geology in west Cumbria is apparently now claimed to be “stable, although imperfect”. But 10 years ago the nuclear industry had not found a way of maintaining the stability of that geology when physically exploring the underground site.

This difficulty was linked to the second issue of “imperfection”, because the imperfection consists of simply failing to meet the internationally agreed criteria on the suitability of rocks for nuclear waste deposit. The site should be in a region of low groundwater flow, and the geology should be readily characterisable and predictable, whereas the rocks there are actually of a complex volcanic nature, with significant faulting. Also, the industry was relying on an overlying layer of sedimentary strata to dilute and disperse any groundwater leakage, when the international criteria require such a layer to act instead as a barrier. The comprehensive assessment that reports the deficiencies in detail is available on the internet (jpb.co.uk/nirexinquiry/nirex.htm). The site is not suitable and investigations should be moved elsewhere.

The site selection process was flawed, not treating safety as the most important factor, and irrationally affected by a strong desire to locate close to Sellafield. A final point – the sketch design for the repository has not been newly revealed. It was submitted to the 1995-96 inquiry, and has subsequently been discussed in technical journals.

Chris McDonald

Camberley, Surrey


Cumbria Coal Mine Nuclear Warnings

Anthropomorphic Earthquakes in the UK https://www.researchgate.net/publication/283186824_Anthropogenic_earthquakes_in_the_UK_A_national_baseline_prior_to_shale_exploitation

Sellafield’s Magnox Swarf Silos’ Leaking https://www.gamechangers.technology/challenge/Leak_prevention_or_minimisation

Sellafield’s “legacy”  – a deep earthquake inducing coal mine nearby?