Sheffield pub closed and residents forced to leave their homes after toxic waste spillage

Concerns have been raised about the safety of the water in a Sheffield suburb after a spillage of toxic waste on a pub car park.

Tuesday, 3rd November 2020, 7:31 am

The Royal Oak in Mosborough has been closed since the middle of October after the discovery of a chemical spillage on the car park, which is now under investigation.

Sheffield Council’s environmental health department is leading the probe into the spillage and the response to it, with some residents having to leave their homes because of contamination.

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Residents have been forced to leave their homes after toxic waste spillage

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A number of residents have been to hospital over the incident.

There are fears in the local community that the water supply may have been contaminated but Severn Trent Water said tests had come back ‘all clear’.

The Royal Oak pub

A spokesman said: “We went out and tested the water last week after a customer contacted us, and our samples came back all clear, showing that there’s no issues with the water supply.

“However, if anyone is concerned, then if they got in touch with us we’d always be happy to help.”

In a statement, the Environment Agency, which is involved in the investigation, said: “The Environment Agency is investigating a pollution incident at a pub in Sheffield, in which a chemical solvent spilled onto the premises car park.

“Our officers have been on site, assessing potential risks to the environment.

“It appears that the pollutant has not posed any risk to nearby watercourses or drinking water, however the grounds of some neighbouring properties have been affected.

“We are supporting Sheffield City Council and other partner organisations in responding to the incident and investigating the cause.”

In a Facebook post, on October 15, the Royal Oak said: “With immediate effect the Royal Oak is closing.

“We are unsure at this point how long this is for but due to a health and safety/ chemical spill it is unsafe to open at this point.”

Yorkshire Water, which is responsible for treating waste water in Mosborough, said it is aware of the incident and staff have visited homes affected by it.

The firm said the sewage system has been checked and no lasting contamination has been found.

South Yorkshire Police said it has not been reported as a criminal matter.

Michael Wattam, 50, who lives in a house affected by the chemical spill with his wife, daughter and granddaughter, is living in a hotel now after being evacuated.

His family has all undergone hospital tests and he fears they could be out of their house for months or years if it needs to be demolished for the land to be decontaminated.

“We are still feeling the effects of breathing in those chemicals for days and days before we were advised to move out on safety grounds. I dread to think what the long-term effects of this could be,” he said.

“Whoever did this must be stupid to not realise the implications of dumping these chemicals, not only to those who live near by but to the wider community if they water gets contaminated.

"We have had to move out of our home and no idea when it might be safe to return or of we will ever be able to.”

A spokesperson for Ei Publican Partnerships, which owns the Royal Oak, said: “Following the illegal fly-tipping of liquid chemicals in the car park of the Royal Oak, we are continuing to support our publican whilst also working with the relevant authorities to assess the extent of the damage.

“Containing an incident that has potential safety implications to the public is of the upmost importance which is why the pub will remain closed and the surrounding area cordoned off until further notice.”

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a digital subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.