Friday, July 06, 2007

Fire !


People in Oxfordshire are being advised to stay away from a large mass of foam, which is travelling down the River Thames and killing fish in its way. The fire-fighting foam spillage, which can cause irritation to eyes and skin, was first reported at Dudgrove Brook in Fairford, Gloucestershire, on Thursday. It is travelling towards Oxford and has already killed a large number of fish.

Hmmm. A large amount of firefighting foam coming from the direction of Fairford, eh ? Where on earth could the source be ?

The Environment Agency said it had traced the source of the pollution, but would not say what it was.

How mysterious. I trust nothing is amiss - least of all something that could affect the grand festival of big boys toys.

I took a quick google for Dudgrove Brook and found this :

The permission was subject to a number of conditions including engineering and surfacing work on Washpool Lane — the quarry’s main access road — and a Section 106 agreement covering further improvement works to surrounding public roads.

In addition, the site’s close proximity to the main armaments compound at RAF Fairford called for a number of other extraordinary safeguards over and above the more customary planning provisions. Following consultation with the Ministry of Defence, an inner ‘blast zone’ extending over a distance of 400m from the ammunition bunker was designated, within which the installation of any buildings used for the ‘congregation of staff’ is not permitted, a safety measure which necessitated a change in the planned location of the quarry’s office, weighbridge, workshop and welfare facilities.

Also, in response to the RAF’s concerns over the possibility of birdstrikes, the quarry will be worked dry to minimize the amount of standing water and hence reduce the site’s attraction to waterfowl. With the water table lying just below ground surface, this involves perpetual pumping and the licensed discharge of around 7,000m3 of water a day from a newly created perimeter drainage ditch into the local Dudgrove brook.

A Google Map search (hybrid or satellite is best) for GL7 4NJ seems to land you on something pretty similar to a main armaments compound. Go south a tad and there's the quarry. Lots of big pits.

Immediately south of the quarry there's another area where a lot of earth-moving seems to have taken place. At first I wondered which was the quarry, but Multimap, using what must be slightly older satellite imagery, shows the area south of our putative main armaments compound as a green field, with the trace of a road across it. This then is the quarry site, as work only began there in 2003. The earth-moving zone to the south is still there, but it's extended across the road to the west in the Google image.

Fascinating though it is, I'm not sure this kind of imagery - of the buildings, road layouts, fences of RAF/US bases - should be available on the Web. Too many politically motivated anti-Western vandals about, not to mention people with worse intentions than the useful idiots.

Makes life easy for spies though. Carry out espionage without leaving the home country.

Let's look at another secret place which had conflagration issues - Hanbury, Staffs. If you go hybrid or satellite then zoom out a tad, look to the east of Hanbury Hill and you'll see a large wooded area with some industrial buildings to the north and a roughly circular wooded area to the south. This circular area is the crater from the 4th largest explosion in World War II - the other three being nuclear.

BBC Audio on the blast here. Some site geology here. They still store fireworks up the road. More memories here.


Blognor Regis said...

Works both ways

Anonymous said...

Here are all those black helicopters

But the best googlemap image is this .

Anonymous said...

Try again:

black helicopters

rosemary said...

Google seems to have gone back to photos several years old for some places - in my area there are buildings that used to show up which now appear to be reduced to the primordial trenches and foundations.

This is a bit disconcerting if you live in one of them, but it would be nice to think it's done on the principle of removing signposts.

Lord Straf-Dresden said...

Laban, the things you do with your time.

Anonymous said...

People in Oxfordshire are being advised to stay away from a large mass of foam

Are they filming Dr Who or is it a foaming pessary convention ?

Geoff said...


My name is Geoff Ziezulewicz and I am a reporter with Stars and Stripes newspaper. We're a daily that covers the US military communities in England and Europe.

I was wondering if the original poster would be able to talk to me regarding this spill, and its potential ties to RAF Fairford and the US military there. I'm looking to see if it's true and a possible story. I can be reached at 01638-544-868.


Laban said...

Hi Geoff.

I'm afraid you know as much about it as I do. You're welcome to use what's on the blog.

I quite often drive down the A419 within a few miles of the base but have neither time nor inclination to start wading up streams looking for clues. Why not ask them directly ? They may not want to tell you, though !

If I see any large burned areas, buildings or aircraft (God forbid) at the Air Tattoo this weekend I'll let people know. Given that some 80,000 people will be there each day I don't think I'll be exposing any secrets.