blastLincoln

Campaign against the Faldingworth explosions nuisance

How the Atkins Reports got Bent

November 14th, 2012 | Posted by admin

Many of you will remember the Atkins Reports, two reports on noise and vibration nuisance at Faldingworth commissioned from the company Atkins Ltd at a cost of over £30,000 to taxpayers.

Many of you will remember a public meeting in Faldingworth village hall, when a fresh-faced young chap from Atkins Ltd stood up and told us that our homes “could not possibly” be being damaged by the many massive explosions at Faldingworth. This argument has been trotted out by the council many times since then, whenever someone complains that their house now has cracks that didn’t exist before the explosions: “Atkins have proved it can’t be happening” says the council, repeatedly.

Many people have probably been put off from making insurance claims because of this. Possibly insurance claims have failed because of this. There is serious money involved.

So if it was discovered that the way the reports were done was manipulated in advance, and that they were not good, fair, honest, genuine science, that would be quite important, wouldn’t it?

Real scientists, when measuring things, go to a lot of trouble to make sure that they themselves have not unconsciously influenced the result. This is known as “double blind” testing; the point is to make sure that nobody knows in advance what the outcome is supposed to be, so they can’t accidentally skew the result. Real scientists also try to measure a lot of whatever they’re measuring, to make sure their result isn’t just a lucky accident.

A bad scientist, on the other hand, only measures a small number of things and doesn’t go to any trouble to stop the results being skewed in advance.

We used a Freedom of Information request to ask just what, exactly, Atkins Ltd had been asked to measure.

It turns out that Atkins only measured three explosions for noise, and only one of these for ground-borne vibration (it’s mainly the ground-borne vibration that cracks-up houses, of course). That’s too small a number to give a reliable result. It isn’t good science.

Worse, Atkins said in advance exactly which day they’d be measuring on. That makes it possible for the people making the explosions to keep them quieter that day. This is very bad science. But it gets still worse.

Atkins Ltd had a quiet chat with the council, and it was agreed that Faldingworth would be asked “which of their explosions was the most representative”, so that Atkins could measure only those [see letter below]. This is astonishing. And it’s much worse than just “bad science”.

The company mainly making the nuisance explosions at Faldingworth is a company called Ordnance Test Solutions, based in Northumberland but renting facilities at Faldingworth. On their website (www.otslimited.co.uk) they claim to do the following:

explosive ordnance disposal                proofing of guns and gun components
sample firing of ammunition (quality control)             gas gun manufacture
ammunition breakdown and “demilitatisation”                   ammunition repair
bonfire trials of munition packaging           safety testing of explosive products
assessment of service life of experimental products             safety drop testing
electronic firing systems manufacture and proofing               ballistics testing
fuel fire testing                   “slow cook-off” ammunition testing               etc etc.

A lot of this boils down to disposal of old stock (blowing up old bombs, shells etc), and quality control testing of armaments (to make sure they’ll kill the number of people they’re supposed to kill). On their website, Ordnance Test Solutions claim that a lot of this stuff is done underground or underwater. Underground explosions don’t make much noise; but they can produce huge amounts of vibration. These are the vibrations that can damage houses.

Atkins Ltd measured none of the underground explosions. Not one. Everything they measured was an air-burst explosion (and only three of those). They avoided measuring any house-damaging underground explosions at all. Purely because Faldingworth was carefully allowed in advance to choose which of their explosions was “the most representative”.

This was agreed between the three groups involved: Atkins Ltd, West Lindsey Council, and Faldingworth. Every single person involved must have known that this was not just bad science, but a stitch-up. Everyone involved must have known it would give a false impression that a reputable scientific company had conducted real scientific tests and had “proved” that no damage could be occurring, when the measurement context was in fact scientific nonsense and a complete sham from the outset.

This is not just bad science. This is manipulation, and very possibly fraud.

We cannot imagine how any reputable scientific company could act like this. We cannot imagine why our council, paid with our money to protect our interests, should connive with this. We can understand very well, however, why the Faldingworth business operation should be very happy to go along with it all. There’s big money in armaments.

West Lindsey will no longer discuss Faldingworth at all. Why would that be, do you think?

If any of you has had difficulty making an insurance claim for damage to your home which you think is due to activities at Faldingworth, make sure your insurance company sees this piece   –   particularly the extract below. We’re happy to supply the full document.

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From:  Atkins Scope of Works 17-3-08, p3:

[Part of a letter from Atkins to West Lindsey, confirming what they expect to be sent. Notice they’re still mentioning “Skydock”; they haven’t even bothered to work out which company is actually doing all this]

4. RECEIVABLES

The following receivables are requested as part of this work.

1). An agreed list of measurement locations.

2). An agreed selection of future ordnance tests that may be deemed representative of the current and future testing programme. This is likely to require further liaison with Skydock regarding what constitutes a representative test.

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