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Investigation of Former Aluminium Smelter Site, Foyers

Issued: 29 Jan 2007

The Highland Council is preparing to carry out an investigation of a former aluminium works in Foyers, Inverness-shire, which is currently in use as a hydro electric power station, to establish if any contamination is present. The Council has written to owners and occupiers of the site to advise them of the works which began today (Monday).

The site is located in Lower Foyers and investigation works are to include the land areas surrounding the current hydro building, comprising two residential houses, a fish hatchery, a shinty field, and an area of land occupied by a nursery play group.

Site works will continue for an estimated three weeks. A programme of groundwater and gas monitoring will continue for a period thereafter. Disruption to the normal use of the site will be limited as far as is possible.

The former aluminium works have been identified as a priority as part of The Highland Council's Contaminated Land Investigation Strategy. Aluminium smelting involves processes and generates wastes which can impact on surrounding land. The investigation works will involve the digging of trial pits and drilling of boreholes to measure contamination in the soils and groundwater. Once soil and water samples have been analysed, an assessment of risk to nearby residents and site users, property and protected environments will be made. This assessment will identify any further necessary works, should this be required.

The Highland Council is carrying out this work in the interest of public safety and the investigation works are precautionary. The Council does not know of any immediate risk to site users.

Site users with any queries should contact the Contaminated Land Team on Freephone 0800 838 009. This number will be staffed from 9 am ~ 5 pm Monday to Friday

The Council has a duty to investigate land which may be contaminated land and ensure that any necessary remediation is carried out. The Foyers aluminium smelter was constructed in 1895 and production of aluminium started in 1896. Production ceased in 1967, and after its closure part of the smelter was converted into a 5 megawatt power station. There have been no known previous investigations of the site.

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Project part-financed by the European Union (European Regional Development Fund) within the INTERREG IIIB Northern Periphery Programme