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Bramley Fuel Pollution

Update from Councillor Jane Austin 8th March 2024

Residents continue to experience terrible fuel smells across the village and signs of fuel in our village stream - pollution made worse by heavy rainfall in recent weeks. In addition Bramley residents have faced weeks of traffic jams caused by the fuel leak; major High Street work and long delays to road / drain repairs both because of concerns about fuel in our drainage system.
Community Meeting
On 13th Feb over 110 residents attended the community information meeting. Thanks to everyone who came - the strength of feeling about this pollution was clear in the room, which we believe has contributed to Asda's decision to close the site. The Asda forecourt and store are closed for 8-10 weeks to enable extensive work to be completed, as detailed below.

In the meeting it was confirmed the amount of fuel leaked is estimated at 2,000 litres+.
Following the meeting, 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.

Community Information Meeting Tuesday 13th February 2024

On the evening of Tuesday 13th February 2024 a community meeting was held at Bramley Village where an update was given on the fuel leak affecting the village.

110 residents attended along with EPS (Asda’s environmental consultants), a representative from ASDA, Jeremy Hunt MP and local councillor Jane Austin as well as other representatives including from the Environment Agency and Waverley Borough Council and local interested organisations.

EPS gave a presentation on the work undertaken so far and explained their plans for the upcoming clean-up operations. This was followed by a Questions and Answers session.

Although the fuel leak happened under a previous ownership ASDA have committed themselves to resolving the situation and this week they closed the forecourt for installation of equipment to start the remediation (clean-up) work - set for the beginning of March.

At the meeting:

  • Residents described the impact this leak has had on the village and their concerns for health.

  • Local businesses including the Jolly Farmer described the impact on trade and concerns about working for long periods in petrol fumes.

  • Many residents described their anger and upset to see the decline in local wildlife and impact on the decimated river ecosystem.

  • Questions were asked about whether the petrol tanks are now safe and sealed which EPS has to date confirmed that they are. EPS did state however that testing of pipework leading to the tanks undertaken on 13th Feb 2024 indicated there may be a fault/issue not previously identified. Councillor Jane Austin has chased EPS urgently and will provide updates asap.

  • Residents also asked how and - and under whose ownership - this leak occurred and who would be held accountable. Would any party be prosecuted in the future? The strength of anger and frustration was palpable in the room.

  • EPS stated that it will take months and possibly years to fully resolve and clean up the contamination in the soil although it is hoped that the major upcoming work on the petrol station should reduce the contamination and smell substantially.

Councillor Jane Austin spoke with EPS following the meeting to try and understand more about the reported faulty pipe discovered on Tuesday the 13th February during testing and it was confirmed that the pipe will not be used again and is to be replaced.

Jeremy Hunt MP and Councillor Jane Austin have a number of action points following the meeting which includes chasing up with the Environment Agency who are investigating this incident with a view to potential prosecution, and a meeting with Asda's senior management team.

Further updates will be follow as soon as new information becomes available from all stakeholders.

For further advice and information please look at the attached documents below

Background to Fuel Pollution

Reports of fuel smells and evidence of fuel in the stream, especially following heavy rainfall have been reported over the last few months. Both Jeremy Hunt MP and Jane Austin our local councillor have been pressing both the Environment Agency (EA) and Waverley Borough Council's Environmental Team for an update on investigations.

We have now received an update from the EA and Waverley Borough Council following their recent meeting with EPS Limited - the petrol station owner's environmental consultants. They have confirmed that there has been gross contamination of soils/ground water by petrol under the petrol filling station.

Over the past few weeks EPS Limited have been piloting/trialling options to determine the most appropriate remedial options to remove and treat the contamination and clean up the petrol station.

You may have seen that a boom has been placed across the stream to adsorb any surface water contamination going downstream and this is being monitored. EPS are undertaking further investigations, including drilling more boreholes to understand where product may have migrated to off site and the extent of this off site contamination.

EPS have produced two reports on the results of their investigation PDFs of which can be found below.

This is an incredibly important issue for all of us and we need to understand what is happening. The Parish Council will continue to press for information and answers for our village and for the situation to be addressed and appropriately remedied as soon as possible.