“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 .”