What’s Buried at Bolton’s Copper Works?

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council are encouraging tourist development at the old Bolton’s Copper Works at Froghall, but local residents have serious concerns about the level of contaminants left over from the industrial processes, including dangerous substances such as cadmium and arsenic.

Froghall Copper Works
Froghall Copper Works

In 2011 Staffordshire Moorlands district council commissioned a study that identified serious risks, but the study was superficial and did not go far enough to reveal the full scale and extent of the problem.   The true levels and distribution of the dangerous chemicals and heavy metals across the extensive site are still not understood.  Disturbance of the site through any development could cause significant risk to public health and the environment, through air born dust and with potential leaching of contaminants into water courses, if remediation work is not done properly.

Last year Foxt residents made a public appeal for information about where contaminants are buried. The public response revealed a wealth of information about the site, detailing what types of contaminants have been buried and where.  The information paints a dark picture of a dangerous legacy for future generations left behind by a previous industrial age when the dangers of such substances were either not known or were ignored.

Link to Foxt Action Group report:-

Bolton Copperworks Contamination Survey by Foxt Action Group – final report

Modern health and safety measures were introduced to combat such situations but we only have to look at the Corby Steel Works cleanup disaster in Northamptonshire to know that District Councils cannot be trusted to comply with the stringent requirements for site clean up.  At Corby disturbance of contamination resulted in child birth deformities in the town through which the contaminated waste was transported, caused by air born pollution from the lorries.  We don’t want the same thing to happen at Froghall.

John Williams of the Foxt Action Group said:-

“The response to our survey raised major concerns about the level of contamination and we are still in the process of gathering information to build up as detailed a picture as possible.  As local residents we are doing what we can to help protect the public.  We passed our report to Staffordshire Moorlands District Council last year but there hasn’t been much action so far.  In the interests of public health a full specialist’s study of the site is urgently required so that we all know what the dangers are, and what it will cost to put the site right before any development takes place.  We don’t want any cost cutting putting the public at risk as happened at Corby.”

What can you do to help?

  • If you have knowledge about contamination on the site please get in touch with John Williams on 01538 266682 or by e-mail at  foxtactiongroup@hotmail.co.uk
  • Ask your local councillors what they are doing to prevent birth defects in Froghall and the surrounding area.