Business owners on the Bellbrook Industrial Estate, Uckfield, are increasingly concerned that dangerous chemicals have not yet been moved from a unit there.
Wealden District Council insists the owner of the unit, a pension fund, is responsible for their removal and “liable for any costs and damages to others”.
But Mr Kevin Benton, whose pension fund owns the unit, says advice from his legal team is that liability lies with administrators of the company which had used the building.
Symon Cockill of Uckfield Motor Services told Uckfield News: “What everyone seems to forget is that this could wipe out the industrial estate.
“If it was ticking and looked like a second world war bomb something would be done but this is three blue drums and no-one seems to comprehend the danger.
“Wealden District Council have told me they have never been down to the unit to view it. That is what they told me.
“The only person who seems to want to try to sort it out is Holly (clerk of Uckfield Town Council). She is the only one showing any interest.”
Mr Cockill added: “We are sitting next door to a bomb and no-one cares basically.”
He said they were told the chemicals were not an immediate danger but that wasn’t good enough. That was what everyone thought about Grenfell Tower and a fireworks factory at Ringmer where firemen lost their lives.
Philip Eves, of PP Estates said: “We are sat next door to 25 tonnes of flammable, explosive, toxic, and God know what else, chemicals and nobody seems to care.
“If there is a fire in there it will flatten the industrial estate and we are coming to work with it next door every day. My guys are all completely fed up with the whole thing and saying why should they come to work every day when potentially they might not be going home.”
He added that the stink from the unit was unbelievable when the door was opened and the smell seeped into their own workshop.
Uckfield Town Council clerk Holly Goring said yesterday she believed the authorities were taking the presence of the chemicals very seriously but it was difficult because of the number of parties involved and different responsibilities held by the authorities.
She added: “I see the Town Council as a conduit between local businesses and the authorities but have no powers in terms of taking any action.
“I will be contacting Wealden District Council today to understand the next steps.”
Holly said that she had received assurances from the fire service, that there was no immediate danger from the chemicals.
A spokesman for Wealden Council was not prepared to elaborate on a statement released on Wednesday which said the council was not proceeding with court action to seek to enforce the removal of hazardous chemicals from the unit “as it is unlikely to be successful.”
In the same statement the council insisted the ACP pension fund was responsible for removing the chemicals and liable for any costs and damages to others.
However the spokesman was concerned to hear about the stink coming from the industrial unit and was going to report that.
He said the council had relied on information from East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service about the contents of the unit.
Read previous Uckfield News reports about the chemicals by following the links below.