On 16 February, I and three members of the Hartlepool and Whitby fishing communities attended a three-hour meeting with representatives from the Marine Management Organisation( MMO). On arrival at Hartlepool BIS Centre, our spirits were high; we knew beyond doubt our calls for further investigation into the ongoing marine die-offs plaguing the waters off the North East coast were based on scientific fact and professional, hands-on evidence.
We were allowed to ask questions.
The same questions which for months remained unanswered despite countless emails and phone calls.
I asked who obtained the core samples which form the basis of the licence application (I already knew the answer …the contractor). MMO were happy with this because they apply a degree of trust…
I asked had they considered the protected species about to be covered in a million tonnes of toxic sediment…they had; by doing a desk top exercise, they therefore believed it wouldn’t be an issue.
I asked had they considered sampling from the barges carrying sediment heading to sea…no they hadn’t and no they wouldn’t.
It became all too apparent there was no intention of looking for pyridine..the massive elephant trumpeting in the corner of the room.
Instead, the invisible novel pathogen which wiped out an entire species without leaving a trace was given poll position.
We left bewildered, confused and upset.
Our faith in the government agencies empowered to protect our fragile environment in tatters.