Sunday, 2 April 2017

Fuel theft closes Northampton arm (again)

We noticed this morning that red and white stripy tape had been stretched right across the Northampton arm by the services block at Gayton Junction (but allowing boats on the main line to use the services). On investigation we found a police and fire service operation in progress.

What appeared to be a CRT man at the junction (he was wearing a non-hi-vis lifejacket) said that overnight someone had drilled into a pipe crossing the canal to steal fuel from it, and that a lot of fuel had leaked into the water.

The bridge was closed to traffic, but I was allowed down onto the towpath.

Booms had been placed across the canal to contain the spill. A number of small absorbent pads were floating on the water, achieving little by the look of them.

Two pipes cross the canal ...

... there is a damp patch at the foot of one of them.

Notices on the pipes seem not to have deterred the thief.

There was a very strong smell of fuel, but it didn't have the familiar diesel whiff.

A news report from two years ago describes an earlier attack on the fuel pipes where an astonishing 50,000 litres of fuel escaped. The fuel was named as kerosene, a fuel used in aviation. That must have been what I smelled today.

I sent photos to a former colleague at BBC Look East, who already knew about the story. It sounded like he was going to run the item and promised me a picture credit. That will surprise a few more former colleagues - I can imagine them saying, "I thought he left four years ago!"

There has been a lot happening today; the rest will have to wait for subsequent blog posts.

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