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Fuel leak update report from Councillor Jane Austin

By Lindi Jansen van Rensburg Bramley Parish Council

Saturday, 9 March 2024


Bramley Parish Council Contributor


Following the meeting held in February 2024, Jeremy Hunt MP and Councillor Jane Austin followed up with queries to Asda, EPS environmental consultants and the EA.
In a major development this week, Asda confirmed to Jeremy that they have seen reference to fuel in the ground from September 2021 via a draft geo-environmental report which mentions 400mm of petrol on the groundwater. As Chris and Steve Hardstone of the Jolly Farmer pub can attest, the first signs of this leak were way back in Autumn 2021.
As we now know, petrol is sitting under the forecourt and is travelling from the petrol station downhill, using the drainage systems as a conduit. Fuel is exiting into the village stream and contaminating it, decimating the local ecosystem. Fuel vapours continue to travel also. Further investigation is underway but we still don't know exactly how the fuel leaked into the ground.

It is however now clear that for many months Bramley residents were not listened to - they were repeatedly told that the smell was due to a failed tank on the forecourt or run-off from the road. It is a scandal that it has taken 2 ¼ years for us all to reach this point.
Asda employed remediation (clean-up) consultants EPS last year and have been complying with their environmental responsibilities. EPS have put in place a comprehensive clean-up programme. The first phase of this was in January when extensive work was undertaken on the High Street by Thames Water to install an impermeable barrier water pipe so two houses no longer have a fuel-contaminated water supply.
The petrol station forecourt was closed on 12th Feb 24 in order to install equipment for the next phase of clean-up. EPS took this opportunity to undertake testing on the tanks and fuel lines - a pipe fuel line leading to Tank 2 failed the pressure test. This same pipe was tested a year ago and passed.
Following confirmation of this failed test Asda has now requested further analysis of the 'test and fuel' data held by the testing company, GVR. Asda say "This further analysis will identify if there are any losses between the point of discharge from the petrol tanker into the underground fuel tank. By analysing the volume discharge by the tanker versus the detected volume change in the tank, GVR can detect any losses during the fuel's passage through the inlet pipe" (i.e. the pipe which failed the test). "GVR commenced this analysis last Monday."
In addition to the planned remediation (clean up) work, there will be major forecourt refurbishment and renewal work undertaken. This includes replacement of all pipework, inspection and potential replacement of all pumps, tanks cleaned and checked for defects and replacement of gauges, chambers and valves. The clean up element of the work should remove the majority of the contamination on the petrol site itself and I believe Bramley residents will be relieved to learn of the additional work Asda is undertaking.
We know there is sadly no quick fix to getting this fuel out of the ground - it may take months / over a year to be finally resolved.
Turning now to the investigation and potential prosecution by the Environment Agency the EA responded to say "we continue to progress our investigation into the significant groundwater pollution incident at Bramley which is examining potential offences under the Environmental Permitting Regulation."

It is important to note that under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 the responsibility for cleaning up contaminated land is generally the person who caused the contamination. However, if the individuals or companies that caused it cannot be identified, then the responsibility will fall to the current owner or occupier of the land.
I will of course keep you updated on any developments including meetings arranged with Asda and the EA.

Thank you for your continued support and patience; please do let Councillor Jane Austin know of any other issues or if the adsorbent barriers need replacing so she can make WBC's environmental team aware.

Contact Information

The Parish Clerk

  • 01483894138

Find Bramley Parish Council

Village Hall, Hall Road, Bramley, Guildford, Surrey, GU5 0AX


Additional Information

The Parish Office is open on Tuesday and Thursday between 9:00am and 12:00pm. To contact the Clerk outside of these hours, please email [email protected].