Who pays and why?

Question mark over survey for old Esso site at Bowling oil terminal

EXXON 3The ExxonMobil site runs along the shore north of this well known landmark at Dunglass in Bowling. Pictures by Bill Heaney

By Bill Heaney

Public concern is growing over West Dunbartonshire Council’s plans to spend £150,000 on a contract to carry out a survey on the quay walls at the ExxonMobil site at Bowling – despite the fact that they do not own the land there.

The Council have advertised for a consultant to carry out the work on “to survey and investigate the condition of the walls providing recommendations and budget for any repair works considered necessary”.

The advertisement on the Public Services Scotland site was spotted by Charles Wood, who flagged it up on the West Dunbartonshire trade unions’ website.

Charles said: “Can anyone explain to me why WDC is advertising a surveying contract with the value of £150,000 on the Exxon site at Bowling?

“This is land they do not own at present, and may never own if Exxon does not sell.”

Bollan Jim 2ExxonMobil was the parent company for Esso petroleum and housed a large tank farm there beside the Dunglass Monument and the Charles Rennie Mackintosh house on the banks of the River Clyde.

Stuart McMillan asked: “Is this the same place that was conveniently supposed to have been all of a sudden contaminated when ExxonMobil left after over 50 Years there?  But wasn’t contaminated when they were using it? That place?”

He added: “Surely the quayside would be the responsibility of the CPA/Crown Estate, Peel Ports? Or ExxonMobil at the very least?  Is this a case of compulsory purchase by the back door loophole?”

Councillor Jim Bollan, pictured above left, of the Community Party, has kept asking for regular updates on what is happening at the site, which was once talked about as the venue for a new stadium for Dumbarton FC and is now earmarked for an industrial estate.

He said: “The Council will spend around £3m of public money on this site which as you rightly say we don’t own and is heavily contaminated with asbestos and other toxic materials.

“The Community Party is the only party on WDC that has consistently voted against this project and the use of the public purse to subsidise a multinational energy company who makes billions in profits.”

Mr McMillan replied: “There has got to be more to this if our Council is getting involved in something that has nothing to do with them?  What are we not being told?

“If it’s owned and operated by ExxonMobil why are we wanting to survey it?

“Surely ExxonMobil has a lot more money than us for any survey/decontamination/re-using the site if it’s theirs?”

Cllr Bollan said: “The Council is prepared to accept remediation of the land which leaves all the toxic materials on the site, instead of insisting on de-contamination of the site which means removing the toxic material to be treated on specially licenced facilities.

“The Council are aware of the toxic materials but are determined to go ahead anyway.”

The Council’s communications department has decided not to answer questions from The Democrat on this or any other matters.


The Harbour master’s house and quay walls at the entrance to Bowling Harbour.


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