Dear God Almighty, are these people insane?

HS2 has lost vast amounts of a potentially highly polluting substance in an aquifer during the construction of the high-speed rail link, it has emerged.

Environmental campaigners have raised concerns about the impact of this on the water supply.

The company lost 1,600 cubic metres of clay slurry known as bentonite, which is used in construction work, in the last few months of last year.

A Network Rail environmental guide to bentonite says that as a liquid it is highly polluting. “If it enters watercourses or drains it can cause damage to plants and animals,” the guidance says.

HS2’s development partner Align has produced a report analysing the impact of this loss on the aquifer on the site where works are being carried out, north of Chalfont St Peter in Buckinghamshire.

The lost bentonite is thought to be sitting in the fractures and fissures around the sides of the aquifer.

It’s clay for fuck’s sake. You know, clay, weathered rock, entirely and wholly natural stuff that abounds in the environment.

One type is oft known as Fuller’s Earth and used in finishing cloth. The other is used in drilling muds – or, perhaps, as the sealant layer on the bottom of landfill. That is, when we do bother to dig it up we use it to be stuck down in the ground again because that’s what it’s useful for.

The effect upon an aquifer will be to seal the edges of it.

“We went digging, found some clay” is the latest thing the enviros are screaming about?

21 thoughts on “Dear God Almighty, are these people insane?”

  1. Environmentalists write up silly rules about what makes something polluting. Then they find something that comes within their silly rules. They can then say somewhere has been polluted. Win win for them. But everyone else is thinking they are stupid.

  2. Benefits of Bentonite Clay for Skin
    Has anti-inflammatory properties: Another boon for those battling breakouts, bentonite clay is naturally anti-inflammatory and can help calm inflammatory acne. It’s also sometimes used to soothe dermatitis and even diaper rash.

  3. In other news HS2 are discovered to be disposing of huge amounts of a highly dangerous substance called ‘soil’. Soil can be fatal to plants and animals, particularly when 1000 tonnes of it is dumped on top of them.

  4. Is plugging the edges of an aquifer desirable? Could the effect be to block the replenishment of the aquifer by water percolating through that there chalk now plugged with clay ?

    Presumably something otherwise benign now someplace we don’t want it could be described as pollution?

    I quite like water, but not in the petrol tank, for example…

    Agree though about the definition ratchet in general

  5. I quite agree this is typical of the hysterical bollocks that the Guardian pushes these days, but you have to ask how it’s possible to lose 1,600 m³ of clay. Does one of the contractors have a little sideline business selling emollient clay ointment for damaged skin?

  6. It’s a disgrace. Can we stop HS2 now? If we are not going to bin it for the sensible reason, let’s shut it down for a stupid one.

  7. “They’ve confused it with Kryptonite. It’s an easy mistake to make.”

    And there was Lex Luthor wondering why Superman’s complexion was soooo smooth.

  8. Ah but don’t we use Fullers Earth in dynamite ? If it came into contact with nitro glycerine, then someone stuck some fuses in it…

  9. I agree that bentonite isn’t likely to harm anyone, even if it gets into their drinking water, but the chalk streams in this part of the Chilterns are delicate, and already in some difficulties because of over-extraction. I don’t think anyone really knows the effect of driving a couple of ruddy great tunnels under them.

  10. I’m the wrong type of engineer to be authorative on this, but I’ve done multidisclinary before so I’ve got some clue. Tunnels project I was working on was near the sea, so the water table was basically ground level. They used a heap of bentonite to seal off the surrounding area. Then groundwater recharge to stop the water table dropping where the tunnels were draining it so that buildings in the area didn’t collapse.
    In all of that, water flows were a huge concern, but I don’t remember anyone worrying about bentonite itself.

  11. Bloke in North Dorset

    “In all of that, water flows were a huge concern,”

    First thing every civil engineer learns to ask is: “where’s the water going?” a civil engineer I play golf with assured me.

  12. Bentonite clay is “clumping” cat litter. … A natural product comprised of Fullers Earth (also commonly known as Bentonite, or Montmorillonite). This heavyweight, naturally clumping litter prevents moisture from collecting on the bottom of the tray where it can decompose and cause odors.

  13. Amusing , and true. Bentonite strata in the BadLands of North Dakota are ubiquitous, yet discrete.
    And very very slippery when wet. Meandering cowpaths up and down and around the hoodoes and drumlins cross these. So it is , on a wet spring day , for a disconsolate dishevelled cow with a one sided mud mousse , hair stiffly stuck up wrong, evidence. dont step on wet bentonite.

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