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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hemel Fire

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We woke up this morning to find a thick, dark sky outside. As the sun rose, it was partially obscured by a dense, dirty, blue/grey cloud. The cloud of pollution from the fire at Buncefield Fuel Depot was upon us.

There is no doubt that is what it was. Instead of the usual bulky, white or grey clouds which herald rain (as promised), but which still let through the occasional glimpse of clearer sky, this ‘cloud’ covered most of the sky, and it was thicker, bulkier and dingier, and the only glimpse we had of anything peeping through was of a mucky grey colour. We could actually see the edge of the cloud running slightly diagonally across the horizon. There was a distinct break between the long line of lumpy blue/greyness and a lighter, much clearer sky, with the part of the Sun which wasn’t obscured by the pollution cloud shining through.

For me, the freakiest thing was that, even though there was supposed to have been a frost last night, every part of the land under the pollution cloud was unaffected and, I would say, a few degrees warmer than the rest of the countryside. I think that brought home to me how much we were at the mercy of this large lump of man-made murkiness.

We had watched the news last night and seen the trajectory of the smoke from Hemel Hempstead and the prediction as to which way it was moving. It should have missed us by a few miles at least, but obviously the wind changed during the night.

When I first began to write this, the cloud was actually running the same course as aircraft travel when they fly South-West from Heathrow or Gatwick. So I would imagine that changes had been made to flight paths – not that we could tell in any case, as the cloud obscured any sky on which we would usually see aircraft trails. Tonight the ‘cloud’ has dispersed a little, but we can still see that ‘break’ across the horizon, now showing the lights of the nearby city in stark contrast to the murk covering us.

We are told that this cloud is not dangerous to our health (unless we are asthmatic, or suffer from respiratory disease), but I am not a great believer in what ‘they’ tell us.

So all our windows have remained closed and the dogs have not been out for their usual run. Not that closing windows will help us in the long term. ‘They’ have been careful so far not to discuss possible long term effects of the pollution cloud.

As to the explosion. First of all, it is a great relief to know that no one was killed and I hope that this remains to be the case, considering the danger the fire crews are under fighting the blaze. I understand that it is very close to being extinguished completely by now. I hope so.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Blair and his cronies didn’t try to blame the explosion on Al Qaeda or another ‘terror group’, but I understand they did consider this. They may still find a way to apportion the blame in terror’s direction. We’ll just have to wait and see.

It seems that, at the moment anyway, the main question being asked is “Why have a fuel depot so near to people’s homes?” But in actual fact, the depot was there first.

The question that they should be asking (among others) is “Why build homes so near to potentially lethal sites?” But in a country as crowded as England (especially the South East) we know the answer to that one – money.

Throughout England (and possibly Wales and Scotland also; I don’t know) planners have paid scant regard to people’s health and well-being when setting up new housing developments. If a site is declared as potentially lethal and ‘unfit for building on’, it seems that the planners wait until all the ‘hassle’ has died down …. And then go ahead and build homes anyway. This has happened again and again in the area around us and appears to be country-wide.

So the question has to be “Do they really care about putting people’s lives at risk?” And the answer seems to be “No”. Not when they can get away with it, anyway.

posted by summersun70 at 10:38 AM


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