Categories: Business, Environment and Renewables, Hartlepool, TeesportPublished On: 16.01.2023354 words1.8 min read

Authority questioned over plan B if pyridine linked to crab deaths

Dead crabs washed up on the beach at Redcar

A Labour councillor has grilled the Tees Valley Combined Authority boss about the organisation’s plan B if pyridine is linked to the mass crustacean die-off.

A report by an independent panel convened by Defra chief scientific advisor Prof Gideon Henderson and the government’s top scientific advisor, Sir Patrick Vallance is expected next week. Cllr Steve Nelson, who sits on Stockton Council, asked TVCA chief executive Julie Gilhespie what would happen if the scientists found pyridine caused the mass die-off of thousands of crustaceans on the Teesside coast in 2021.

Defra has previously ruled that an algal bloom is to blame but campaigners disagree. Newcastle University academic Dr Gary Caldwell believes chemical pyridine is responsible and suggested the deaths were caused after sediment slippage led to an increase in maintenance dredging that disturbed historical toxins. PD Ports boss Jerry Hopkinson has previously said he does not think the maintenance dredging was to blame.

At the TVCA overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday, Ms Gilhespie initially responded to Cllr Nelson’s question about a plan B by saying she wasn’t sure what he meant which brought an outburst of laughter from campaigners in the room. Cllr Nelson then responded: “What would happen if the report comes out next week and directly links the crustacean deaths to pyridine….I am just wondering what happens next in that eventuality. It’s quite possible the expert panel links the deaths.”

In response, Ms Gilhespie said:

“We do what we have done all along, we follow government guidance. If the government guidance says we shouldn’t be doing it, we won’t do it…There are alternative ways we could approach it.

“But they are time-consuming and probably expensive and probably will mean that we won’t meet our contractual obligations. But at the end of the day, if that’s what the government tells us to do, that’s absolutely what we will do.” . . . . 

. . . . continue reading the article on the Darlington & Stockton Times website here