Exposure of 550 young children to asbestos fibres and genotoxins vented out with landfill gases

Sheila Oliver made this Freedom of Information request to Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council This request has been closed to new correspondence. Contact us if you think it should be reopened.

Waiting for an internal review by Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council of their handling of this request.

Dear Stockport Borough Council,

Given the concerns expressed by both the Director of Public Health and the Council's Environment Officer regarding a sister former tipped Jackson’s Brickyard site at Adswood, Stockport regarding the dangers of the venting of asbestos fibres with landfill gases, in this case into the school and playground areas at the proposed school at Harcourt Street, from the landfill gas venting ducts, please may I see documentary evidence to show that the Council has given consideration to this problem to ensure that babies in the nursery and young children will not be breathing in asbestos fibres, even one of which could cause cancer?

Yours faithfully,

Sheila Oliver

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mrs Oliver,

I am writing in response to your request for information below (ref 2540).

As you have previously been informed, your requests for information about
Harcourt Street are considered to be vexatious under section 14(1) Freedom
of Information Act 2000 and manifestly unreasonable under Regulation
12(4)(b) Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and will not receive a
response. This decision has been through the Council's internal review
process and was upheld. It has also been investigated by the Information
Commissioner's Office at your request; the ICO upheld the Council's
decision in its Decision Notice.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Naven

Claire Naven

Data Protection & Freedom of Information Officer

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

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Dear FOI Officer,

With regards to the alleged vexatious nature of my requests regarding this issue, I would draw your attention to the fact that the Council has recently been forced, because of a public inquiry, to disclose that the site that it proposed to educate 550 babies and young children is indeed extensively contaminated. The Council intended for the school to open in September 2008 and had it not been for my "vexatious" efforts children would now be spending many hours each day on a site contaminated with lead, arsenic and asbestos on which no contamination remediation measures had been carried out. They intended to protect young children from contamination hotspots by means of prickly bushes. The plants would have soaked up the contaminants and lost their prickly leaves, exposing young primary school children to toxic hotspots. The Council knew from records in its own archives, which were drawn to its attention, that the site had been extensively tipped with industrial waste from 1954 to 1974.

In addition the school was to be paid for by £6.69 million of capital receipts and this figure has now been reduced to £1.6 million. Again, in trying to expose that fact I was not, to my mind, being vexatious. The Council will now have to finance the scheme with extensive borrowing at a time of a looming possible £45 million black hole in its budget.

I intend to write now to Mr. Thomas, the Information Commissioner, himself explaining how I have striven to protect these innocent children from the carcingenic effects of being exposed to chemicals likely to bring about incidences of bladder cancer in them

The Director of Children and Young People's Directorate, a man who serves on several important Government think tanks, said it would take 84 hours at £25 per hour plus £300 photocopying costs for a council officer to redact the files regarding this proposed school before I could see them. Request refused not only to me but any other resident in the town or possibly the country. How many secrets can there be for a school development that would take a council officer working full time for almost three weeks to remove them? I wanted no photocopies but just to read the files. I had seen the files in the months previously and just wanted to re-read the files and see any additions. There were about four folders. The Council failed to carry out an independent review of the issue for six months - an unacceptable time frame. Once lifted it then re-introduced the ban which has been in force for possibly three out of the past four years.

All council meeting questions on the subject are also banned, which is an infringement of human rights to question elected representatives.

I am now taking the issue to Mr. Thomas and will keep visitors to this site appraised of developments.

Yours sincerely,

Sheila Oliver

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Please see the response below received from the Information Commission 14/01/10. I am obviously not under any ban on asking questions on this subject, despite claims to the contrary by Stockport Council.

"As the specific information you requested from the council in January and February 2008 has now been disclosed, there is nothing further for the Commissioner to do in relation to the above complaint (opened under case reference: FS50205853). However, our closure of this case will not preclude you from submitting further information requests to the council for consideration. Furthermore, if you are unhappy with the response you receive to any such requests you may refer it to the Commissioner for investigation. However, I wouldn’t want to prejudge how the council may respond to you in the future"

I trust this clarifies the position.

Yours sincerely

Michael Warburton

Senior Complaints Officer

Information Commissioner's Office

Dear Stockport Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Stockport Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Exposure of 550 young children to asbestos fibres and genotoxins vented out with landfill gases'.

On 14/01/10 The Senior Complaints Officer at the Information Commission has said that I may continue to submit questions on this subject to Stockport Council.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ex...

Yours faithfully,

Sheila Oliver

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mrs Oliver,

I am writing in response to your email below (ref 2537).

As we have previously explained to you on a number of occasions, the
Council has already carried out an internal review of its decision to
refuse all your requests on the subject of Harcourt Street on the grounds
that they are vexatious and manifestly unreasonable. Your subsequent
complaint has also been investigated by the Information Commissioner's
Office which issued a Decision Notice and upheld the Council's decision.
On this basis, the Council will not be carrying out an internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Naven

Claire Naven

Data Protection & Freedom of Information Officer

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

show quoted sections

Dear Stockport Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Stockport Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Exposure of 550 young children to asbestos fibres and genotoxins vented out with landfill gases'.

A Senior Complaints Office at the Information Commission stated on 14/01/10 that I could continue to ask questions on this subject. What has Stockport Council got to hide regarding this matter, which is, as one can see from the nature of the question, a very important one for the safety of children?

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ex...

Yours faithfully,

Sheila Oliver

FOI Officer, Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

Dear Mrs Oliver,

I am writing in response to your email below (ref 2540).

As we have previously explained to you on a number of occasions, the
Council has already carried out an internal review of its decision to
refuse all your requests on the subject of Harcourt Street on the grounds
that they are vexatious and manifestly unreasonable. Your subsequent
complaint has also been investigated by the Information Commissioner's
Office which issued a Decision Notice and upheld the Council's decision.
On this basis, the Council will not be carrying out an internal review.

Yours sincerely,

Claire Naven

Claire Naven

Data Protection & Freedom of Information Officer

Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council

show quoted sections

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

The Council declared me vexatious after I wrote many times to them protesting that a man subsequently proved innocent had been sent to prison as a result of their actions, that they were intending to knowingly build a school on a contaminated site extensively tipped from 1954 to 1974 with industrial waste on which they intended to carry out no contamination remediation whatsoever. They have been forced to admit recently that the site is entirely contaminated with arsenic, lead and asbestos. The school should have opened in September 2008 and 550 children would have been exposed to those chemical dangers. They also were hiding the fact that they were going to have to borrow £5 million for the school, having previously said £6.9 million would be coming from capital receipts and they were hiding the fact that they failed to comply with the law with regards to the compulsory purchase of a strip of land they knew perfectly well was in a householder's garden. They should have held a public inquiry, which they would probably have lost, so they simply took the land.

The Council was told on 14/01/10 by a senior Information Commission complaints officer that I could ask questions on this subject.

I shall be taking this matter to Mr. Thomas, Information Commissioner, himself.

Stockport Council has a lot to conceal, but I shall expose what they are trying to cover up. It doesn't matter how long it takes.

Dear Stockport Borough Council,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Stockport Borough Council's handling of my FOI request 'Exposure of 550 young children to asbestos fibres and genotoxins vented out with landfill gases'.

Please note that the Information Commission Team Leader has stated
to me in a letter dated 15/2/10:-

... "Notice relates specifically to the request you made on 1st
December 2008 and does not make any finding regarding future
requests. If you have made further requests and these have been
refused you should ask the Council to review their requests and if
following this review you remain unhappy with their response you
can bring a new complaint to the Commissioner."

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ex...

Yours faithfully,

Sheila Oliver

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

"Council bosses decided NOT to hold a wide-ranging investigation into the death of a boy who died after an asthma attack at school, the MEN can reveal.

Stockport council officials considered carrying out a serious case review into the 11-year-old's death THREE times – but each time decided against.

The news came after an inquest jury found a catalogue of errors and neglect by staff at Offerton High School 'significantly contributed' to Sam's death.

He was left to sit in a corridor after suffering the attack while teachers failed to call an ambulance.

Parents Paul and Karen Linton are now considering legal action against the council.

The M.E.N understands officials in charge of safeguarding Stockport children did not believe the case met the criteria for a full serious case review...."

Manchester Evening News

The same people responsible for the above are the ones refusing to answer questions about this school to be built on toxic waste. The Information Commission has said the next step is to lodge an official complaint with Stockport Council about their refusal to respond, but the Complaints Officer won't even reply.

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

Is my local MP Andrew Stunell having a laugh here? I repeatedly
asked him to make Stockport Council reply to questions, which they
have avoided for about four years:-

http://www.libdemvoice.org/andrew-stunel...

I shall ask him again for help and post his response, or lack of
it, on this site.

Have a look at this frightening You Tube clip of the brown asbestos
"experts" languidly and unscienficially removing brown asbestos
from the school site:-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0rCPnP5H9o

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

This is the letter from the Director of Public Health pointing out the dangers of carcinogens being vented out with the landfill gases:-
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-ice my original e mail I have had an opportunity to discuss this with you and with the council's agai aavisers. i understand that if otsr grounds for refusal could be met by a condition that we should use this approach and that this would be the case if it was certain that a technically feasible solution is available whether or not it is economically feasible.
If this is correct then clearly the matter should be dealt with by condition and this does not carry any implication that compliance with the condition will be economically feasible.
Provided this is made clear to the developer I would be happy with this approach, which I understand is the approach the Environment Agency are recommending.
2. POLLUTION BY TRACE CARCINOGENS
The second issue is raised by the Environmental Health De'pt.
They point out that in the venting of gas traces of unknown carcinogens may be brought up with
the gas and released in the vicinity of the housing. .. .
> You have asked for my guidance as to whether trace carcinogens are a serious health, hazard.
Two specific carcinogens have been mentioned as definitely present- hydrocarbons and asbestos- and interestingly they are at the two extremes of the range of importance to be attached to traces.
Traces of hydrocarbons should be ignored. They will barely add to the much more substantial pollution produced by motor vehicles. Refusing permission on those grounds is something I could not support unless you accepted the corollary that all motor vehicles should be banned from the entire borough.
• . .• •
Asbestos fibres are a serious health problem. Cancer can be caused by a single fibre.
The various unknown carcinogens that it is believed might be present on the tip -1 understand the problem is that it was used for unauthorised and unrecorded dumping of chemicals at some time in the past - will fall mid way between these two extremes.
Certainly the presence of asbestos is itself sufficient to confirm that this issue cannot be ignored.
The mapping of chemicals on the site which would be necessary to comply with the Environment Agency recommendations relating to leachate will also allow a view to be taken on this issue.
However the advice we received at the technical meeting was that it is not certain that a technical solution will be possible, and in this respect the situation is different from the situation relating to leachate and the same legal advice that pointed to dealing with that matter by way of condition would suggest that this one needs to be dealt with by refusal.
STEPHEN J. WATKINS Director of Public Health
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This is the letter from the Council's own Environmental Health Officer about the danger:-

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X>-^7 :r:-— >™ M nun nation nas oeen preseniea wnicn sansnes me
cnority that gas emissions from the proposed venting system at the site will a health risk to future site users.
>' It should be made clear that there is the potential for ground gas to be venting from this site for over twenty years
The number of carcinogenic (and other) compounds which could potentially be present within the fill is extremely large. Due to the unknown composition of the fill, this department cannot speculate on the gases that are to be liberated during the venting process.
One precautionary example is that asbestos was found in an area of fill during the intrusive site investigation, if a venting point was driven through an area of asbestos there would be the potential for asbestos fibres to be released onto the development. No lower exposure threshold exists for certain types of asbestos hence a serious health risk would occur if one fibre of asbestos were to be released during the venting of the gas.
• i
Any exposure to genotoxic carcinogens increases the likelihood of .developing
cancer, and future residents at the site could therefore have increased lifetime
cancer risk. The reason being is that they may inhale landfill gas on a regular basis.
Other physical affects can also be attributed to exposure to landfill gas. It is
therefore critical that an assessment of the potential impact on residents health
should be carried out. Information concerning the exposure of residents to landfill
gas should also be included within the assessment this should also give reference to
potential odour nuisance that is likely to be caused by the venting landfill gas off at
low level. .
The assessment should be capable of withstanding scrutiny at the highest level and provide residents with a measured level of protection.
If this assessment is not provided or does not contain sufficient information, this Council would have serious concerns about this development. As I'm sure the developer would about putting people onto a site that could pose a risk to health.

*=»

Richard Pollitt
Environmental Health Officer (Contaminated Land)

Sheila Oliver (Account suspended) left an annotation ()

This is the text from the Information Commission stating you should be answering questions on this vital matter:-

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Information Commissioner's Office
Promoting public access to official information and protecting your personal information
15th February 2010
Case Reference Number RCC0296506 / FS50232537 Stockport Borough Council
Dear Mrs Oliver
Thank you for your letter of 7 February 2010. In your letter you state that since the issuing of the Decision Notice in relation to case FS50232537 on 10 November 2009 further evidence has come to light which you feel no proves you are not vexatious. You also state that since the Decision Notice was issued all your subsequent requests for information made to the Council have been refused on the basis that the requests are vexatious.
The Decision Notice found that at the time of your request, which was 1 December 2008, your request was manifestly unreasonable and therefore Stockport Borough Council were correct to refuse to disclose to you the information you requested by virtue of 12(4)(b) of the Environmental Information Regulations. All Decision Notice must consider the circumstances at the time the request was made and cannot take into account circumstances that post date the request. If you are unhappy with the findings of the Decision Notice you should appeal to the First-Tier Tribunal (Information Rights). Any appeal should be lodged with the Tribunal within 28 days of the date of the Decision Notice. The contact details for the Tribunal are found at the bottom of the Decision Notice.
In relation to your second point, that the Council are now refusing all your requests for information on the basis that they are vexatious, the Decision Notice relates specifically to the request you made on the 1 December 2008 and does not make any finding regarding future requests. If you have made further requests and these have been refused you should ask the Council to review the requests and if following this review you remain unhappy with their response you can bring a new complaint to the Commissioner.
Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF t:0845 630 6060 f:01625 524510 e:mail@ico.gsi.gov.uk w:ico.gov.uk