Page last updated at 13:51 GMT, Friday, 9 October 2009 14:51 UK

Cement dust cloud 'coats' village

Car covered in dust
Residents took photos of the dust that settled on vehicles overnight

A dust cloud which leaked from a cement works in Flintshire is being investigated by the Environment Agency.

The leak from Hanson Cement at Padeswood - formerly Castle Cement - was reported by residents in Penyffordd, near Mold on Thursday.

One man said the leak had covered everything in the village and he was unable to wash the "opaque layer" of dust from his car.

Environment Agency Wales said it had taken almost 30 calls from the public.

"We are conducting our own detailed investigation on site and in the surrounding area of Penyffordd and Penymyndd to assess the impacts of this incident," said an officer for the agency.

"If we discover that there have been any breaches of their environmental permit, we will take appropriate enforcement action against the company."

I could see it was dust - I tried to get it off, but I couldn't remove it
Resident James Dawson

The company has arranged for villagers affected by the dust cloud to have their cars cleaned.

In 2007, the cement works' previous owners, Castle Cement, paid for professional car valets to clean the vehicles of nearby residents caught in two separate outpourings of dust from its chimney.

Community councillor Colin Bithell described the incident on Thursday as "extremely serious".

Mr Bithell, whose own car was affected, said he was concerned about the effect of cuts in the workforce due to the recession.

He said that a meeting he was assured that everything at the factory was "under control".

"Now we've seen this and I want to know what they're going to do to make sure it doesn't happen again," he said.

"What concerns me most is the effect on people's health and that we could be breathing in this stuff.

"We've seen how much dust has landed on our cars. It's absolutely caked on and they're going to need cleaning professionally."

Hanson Cement, formerly known as Castle Cement (pic supplied by company)
The leak at Hanson Cement, formerly Castle Cement, is being investigated

Resident James Dawson, said: "When I went outside to get in my car yesterday morning, it looked as if the car was covered in frost, but on closer examination I could see it was dust. I tried to get it off, but I couldn't remove it ."

A spokesman for Hanson said it had received about a dozen complaints from villagers and a number of calls had also been made to Environment Agency Wales.

He said a problem had occurred during the cement milling process on Wednesday evening and this had resulted in cement dust escaping from a storage silo.

"The process was shut down immediately and apart from the environment agency investigating, we're now conducting our own internal inquiry to find out what went wrong.

'Mechanical problem'

"We have been assured that there is no threat to health. It's a nuisance problem rather than a health issue."

Asked whether reductions in the workforce were a factor, he said: "Until we know what's caused this, it would be wrong to comment.

"It could be a mechanical problem which could have happened even with 300 people working on the site."

Below is a selection of the comments we have received on this article.

I also thought it was ice but quickly realised it was cement dust, after having attempted to wash both cars last night I am unable to remove all of the dust, it appears to have stuck. I would go as far to say the cars will need to be professionally cleaned or even re-sprayed. I'm hoping the environment agency take this leak seriously.
James , Penyffordd

I too woke up to seeing my car covered in this dry coat of dust covering my car, i originally thought it was a layer of ice covering my windscreen and was shocked to see my whole car in a disgusting light brownish colour
Marc, Penyffordd

I too thought at first it was ice on my car and then realised it was cement dust again. God only knows what its doing to our lungs, will Hanson pay for medical treatment for people when the health problems start to emerge I wonder?
karen griffiths, penyffordd, chester

I initially thought it was a layer of ice on my windscreen this morning as my wipers were scrapping over the top of it. It took sometime to clean the windscreen and side windows well enough to drive.

Emma, Penyffordd

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