Fire-hit firm is liquidated

The fire at Thrunton. Picture taken by Geoff Dick, Pegswood.
The fire at Thrunton. Picture taken by Geoff Dick, Pegswood.

A company whose stock went up in smoke causing a fire to burn for six months has gone into liquidation, casting a shadow over the clean-up operation.

Blackwater (North East) Ltd leased space at the former Swarland Brickworks site, in Thrunton, to store bales of shredded, recycled carpet.

In September last year, a fire broke out which burnt until February. It came to light that Blackwater had flouted Environment Agency permit conditions on numerous occasions.

Around 3,000 tons of waste was left following the fire and while Blackwater was ordered to remove it, nothing was taken away.

Now the company has gone into voluntary liquidation.

Sir Alan Beith MP has been in touch with the liquidators and the Environment Agency (EA).

He said: “I will continue to work alongside residents for the help needed to protect them from the impact of this business and the fire at Thrunton.”

A statement from liquidators O’Hara’s Limited said: “Christopher Brooksbank of O’Haras Limited was appointed liquidator of Blackwater (North East) Limited on June 3, 2014.

“Since his appointment he has been contacted by the Environment Agency and a representative for Sir Alan Beith to discuss the environmental issues at the Thrunton site.

“The company has insufficient funds to make good the site and following liquidation responsibility for the clean-up of the site now falls to outside agencies or the ultimate owner of the site.”

Chris Blythe, owner of the Swarland Brickworks site, declined to comment.

An EA spokesman said: “The primary legal responsibility for the remediation of the Blackwater carpet recycling site is the company itself, Blackwater (North East) Ltd. Should Blackwater cease to exist after the liquidation process, the landowner has a legal responsibility to manage the site to prevent further pollution.

“The Environment Agency is in contact with the landowner to provide them with advice and guidance around the continued management of the site, and we have also advised them and Blackwater to progress matters through their respective insurance arrangements.

“The Environment Agency does not have a duty to remove the waste; it does has discretionary powers to act where there is an imminent risk of pollution, but there is no evidence at present that this is the case. We will however continue to monitor the situation.”

The Environment Agency is in the process of taking legal action against Blackwater for permit breaches and failing to respond to enforcement action.