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?