The Anonymous Widower

Piney Point: Emergency Crews Try To Plug Florida Toxic Wastewater Leak

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the introductory paragraph.

Emergency crews in Florida have been working to prevent a “catastrophic” flood after a leak was found in a large reservoir of toxic wastewater.

This Google Map shows the location.


  1. At the top of the map is an area called Tampa Bay Estuarine Ecosystem Rock Ponds.
  2. The reservoir appears to be in the South East corner of the map.
  3. There appear to be several chemical works to the West of the highway.

This second Google Map shows the reservoir at a larger scale.


  1. The picture in the BBC article was taken from the North West.
  2. The problem reservoir is right and above of centre.
  3. To its right is Lake Price, which appears to be the sort of lake to sail a boat and perhaps do a bit of fishing and swimming.
  4. Moore Lake to the South appears similar to Lake Price.

It looks to me that it is not the place to have an environmental incident.

This article in The Times says this.

Engineers are furiously pumping the phosphate-rich water into the sea to avoid an uncontrolled spill at Piney Point, whose failure could unleash a 20ft-high wall of toxic effluent.

Pumping it into the sea? Surely not?

I suspect there could have been a mixture of sloppy management and loose regulation, with minimal enforcement and I’ll be interested to see what recommendations are put forward by the inevitable investigation.

In my varied past, I was once indirectly involved, in the toxic waste that comes out of chemical plants. At the time, I was working for ICI in Runcorn and my main job was building designing and building instruments for the various chemical plants in and around Runcorn.

As they had hired me because of my programming skills, they asked me if I could do a few small jobs on their Ferranti Argus 500, which could be plugged in to both their Varian NMR machine and their AEI mass spectrometer.

With the former, to get better accuracy in analysis of chemicals, I would take successive scans of a sample and aggregate them together. The accuracy of the results would be proportion to the square root of the number of scans.

The second to my mind was more difficult and much more interesting.

This explanation of mass spectroscopy is from Wikipedia.

Mass spectrometry (MS) is an analytical technique that is used to measure the mass-to-charge ratio of ions. The results are typically presented as a mass spectrum, a plot of intensity as a function of the mass-to-charge ratio. Mass spectrometry is used in many different fields and is applied to pure samples as well as complex mixtures.

ICI at Runcorn had a lot of complex mixtures and the aim of my project, was to take a mass spectrum and automatically decide what chemicals were present in the mixture.

The mass spectra were presented as a long graph on a roll of thermal paper. I noticed that operators would pick out distinctive patterns on the graph, which they told me were distinctive patterns of chlorine ions.

Chlorine has an unusual atomic weight of 35.5 because it is a mixture of two stable isotypes Chlorine-35 and Chlorine-37, which produced these distinctive patterns on the spectra.

I was able to identify these patterns to determine the number of chlorine atoms in a compound. By giving the algorithm a clue in stating how many carbon, oxygen and hydrogen atoms could be involved, it was able to successfully identify what was in a complex mixture.

All this was programmed on computer with just 64K words of memory and a half-megabyte hard disc.

ICI must have been pleased, as I got a bonus.

One of the jobs the software was used for was to identify what chemicals were present in the lagoons alongside the River Weaver, which are shown today in this Google Map.


  1. The chemical works, which were part of ICI in the 1960s, to the North of the Weaver Navigation Canal.
  2. The two former lagoons between the canal and the River Weaver, which seem to have been cleaned out and partially restored.
  3. Was that a third large lagoon to the South of the River Weaver?
  4. There also appears to be a fourth smaller triangular lagoon between the canal and the river.

There certainly seems to have been a better clear-up in Runcorn, than in Florida.

I moved on from Runcorn soon after, I’d finished that software and have no idea how or if it developed and was used.

But the techniques I used stayed in my brain and were used at least four times in the future.

  • In the design of a Space Allocation Program for ICI Plastics Division.
  • In the design of two Project Management systems for Time Sharing Ltd.

And of course, they were also used in designing the scheduler in Artemis for Metier.



April 5, 2021 Posted by | Computing, Design, World | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Walk Between Burnley Barracks And Burnley Manchester Road Stations

Burnley Barracks and Burnley Manchester Road stations are not that far apart.

This Google Map shows Burnley’s three stations in relation to the Town Centre and Turf Moor.

The various locations are as follows.

  • Turf Moor is indicated by the red arrow in the East.
  • Burnley Barracks station is in the North-West corner.
  • Bunley Central is at the North.
  • Burnley Manchester Road is at the South.
  • The Leeds and Liverpool canal weaves its way through the town passing close to Burnley Barracks station.

What the map doesn’t show is the terrain. The main station at Manchester Road is on one stretch of high ground and Central station and Turf Moor are on another.

So I walked between Barracks and Manchester Road  stations along the canal.

It was a pleasant walk, but I still had a stiff climb up to Manchester Road station.

The East Lancashire Line

The East Lancashire Line is the line that runs through Burnley Barracks station.

The route needs to be improved and I wrote about this in Improving The Train Service Between Rose Grove And Colne Stations.

I suggested that Class 769 bi-mode trains would be ideal for the route.

Burnley Barracks Station

There would appear to be a lot of development planned along the canal.

Surely, this development will generate passenger traffic, as many will prefer to walk along the level canal tow-path, rather than climb the hill to Burnley Manchester Road station.

Burnley Barracks station needs improvement.

  • Better shelter.
  • Ticket machine.
  • Better means of requesting the train to stop.
  • Ideally, there would be a lift to street level.

But at least Network Rail are replacing the bridge over the canal and the platform can already accommodate a four-car train.



If refurbisheed four-car Class 769 trains replace the current two-car scrapyard specials on the East Lancashire Line, the following will happen.

  • Capacity on the route will be doubled.
  • The service will be faster, due to the increased speed and power.
  • No expensive platform lengthening will be required.
  • An hourly service between Blackpool South and Colne will have no problems operating seven days a week.
  • Some stations, like Burnley Barracks, will need improvements to handle the extra passengers.

Two trains per hour will need track work to add a passing loop and modern signalling, and a few more trains.


November 18, 2017 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Walk In Leeds City Centre

I had time to waste, so I took a walk in a wide circle around Leeds station.

I went under the railways through the station and then walked along the Leeds and Liverpool Canal towards the West. I turned North and followed the Kirkstall Viaduct, that used to take the trains into Leeds Central station.

One of the problems of this walk in Leeds, is that you might like to go through the station. But it doesn’t seem to be encouraged.

September 25, 2016 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

From Leeds To Burnley Manchester Road

I’d gone to Burnley for the football via Leeds, as the West Coast Main Line seemed to be partly closed and I also wanted to take a look at the recently-opened Apperley Bridge station, which I wrote about in The New Apperley Bridge Station.

The trains across the Pennines on Saturdays are an hourly service at xx:08 from York to Blackpool North, that calls at New Pudsey, Bradford Interchange, Halifax and Hebden Bridge, on the section of route I would travel.

The train was busy and I was unable to get any decent pictures, but my 12:08 departure dropped me on time in Burnley Manchester Road station at 13:11. I wrote about the scenic qualities of the route before in The Scenic Route From Leeds To Manchester.

Burnley Manchester Road station doesn’t have a taxi rank, but I was able to hi-jack an empty one and the driver took me to my Premier Inn just north of the town centre and Turf Moor for a fiver.

It was a hard-fought match and a goalless draw was a fair result.

The Premier Inn is a useful one, as it is only a few minutes walk down and up the hill to Turf Moor.

One of the staff told me, that they get a lot of walkers and cyclists using the hotel as a half-way point on the nearby Leeds and Liverpool Canal.


January 2, 2016 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

Three Bridges

If you read Rolt’s biography of Isambard Kingdom Brunel, you get the impression that the engineer was not a totally serious man without any sense of whimsy or humour.

A few weeks ago I read something about his last design, the unique Three Bridges, which arranges a road above a canal, above a railway. So I just had to visit.

Unfortunately, you can’t take photographs from the railway, but you almost get the impression, that Brunel intended to leave behind something by which he would be remembered. This Google Map shows the layout.

Three Bridges And Hanwell Locks

Three Bridges And Hanwell Locks

The railway is the freight only Brentford Branch Line.

September 10, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Falkirk Wheel

The Falkirk Wheel was  the destination of the walk.

I think it is impressive. But is it art, engineering or a spectacular solution to lifting boats between two canals?. Wikipedia says this about the purpose of the lift.

The wheel raises boats by 24 metres (79 ft), but the Union Canal is still 11 metres (36 ft) higher than the aqueduct which meets the wheel. Boats must also pass through a pair of locks between the top of the wheel and the Union Canal. The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world.

It is also unique.

This Google Map gives a view looking down on the area.

Falkirk Wheel

Falkirk Wheel

The Forth and Clyde Canal, which runs across the top of the picture is thirty five metres lower than the Union Canal that runs along the bottom.

Perhaps we should create more spectacular machines like this. In the same class, I would include, these from the UK, that I have seen.

  1. The Thames Barrier.
  2. Tower Bridge
  3. The Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge

All are different in their own way. But certainly at the Falkirk Wheel on a sunny Sunday afternoon, kids of all ages had gathered to watch.

September 6, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

From The Kelpies To The Falkirk Wheel

I walked from The Kelpies to the Falkirk Wheel. This Google Map shows the route.

Kelpies To The Falkirk Wheel

Kelpies To The Falkirk Wheel

I estimate it was about five miles and it is pretty flat with no steep hills. The red arrow shows the centre of Falkirk, with The Kelpies in the top right and the Falkirk Wheel in the bottom left corners respectively.

These are pictures I took along the route.

What was a great help was the restaurant called the Gambero Rosso by the Forth And Clyde Canal, where I had an excellent lunch.

The one thing that would have helped was a Boris-style bike you could hire at one end and leave at the other. They have a version of these bikes in Stirling.




September 6, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

The Kelpies

The Kelpies are best described by these pictures.

I liked them and their setting in the sun was excellent. This Google Map shows their location to the West of the M9 Motorway and South of the River Carron.

The Kelpies And The Helix

The Kelpies And The Helix

The  area to the South has been converted into a park called The Helix. I came on a bus called The Loop from Falkirk Grahamstown station.

September 6, 2015 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

The Canals Of Birmingham

My Premier Inn was on the Canal Side and I took these pictures as I walked up back to the hotel after breakfast in Carluccio’s in Brindley Place.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a canal entrance to the hotel, but it wasn’t too far to get between the two.  I suspect, they didn’t want to have to fish drunken guests out of the canal.

Canals are important to Birmingham, as this section in Wikipedia says. It says this.

However, Birmingham is at the hub of the country’s canal network. There are 35 miles (56 km) of canals within the city, of which most are navigable. Birmingham is often described as having more miles of canal than Venice. This is technically correct (Venice has 26 miles). However, Birmingham is far larger than Venice, so the latter has a far higher concentration of canals; and the type of waterway is very different. Counting water volume and taking into account depth measurements, Birmingham has more cubic meters of water pass through its canals than any other city in the world.

Birmingham is certainly trying to use the canals creatively, as the pictures show.

And according to this article in the Wolverhampton Express and Star, there are even otters in the canals, who see the ciy’s garden fish-ponds as a source of fresh fish!



August 6, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

From Mitre Bridge To Ladbroke Grove – 16th July 2015

I walked from Mitre Bridge to Ladbroke Grove along the |Grand Union Canal.

One aim was to see if I could get decent pictures of North Pole Depot, the Crossrail works and the flyover to the East of the depot.

I am endebted to this article on London Reconnections entitled Old Oak Common Part 2 – Putting the pieces together for this description of what happens in this area.

The track layout below is derived from the Context Reports produced in 2009 by Crossrail for each local authority, and then checked where possible against the HS2 plans. Among other features this shows a new ramp joining the existing GWML empty stock flyover just east of OOC. This new ramp gives a clear route to the Crossrail depot independent of the GWML depot lines, and the plans show it being built across the finger of land at the west end of the ex-Kensal Green Gas Works development site. It will be double track, and the alignment on the incline back down towards Old Oak Common will be widened so that the GWML empty stock has a segregated track down from the flyover.

So the flyover is so that empty stock can get between the depots at Old Oak Common and Paddington.

Note that some of the new Crossrail tracks can be seen in the foreground of the pictures of North Pole Depot, which will be used for the Hitachi Class 800/801 trains for First Great Western. The tracks closest to the fence are the tracks leading to Crossrail’s depot. The two actual running tracks are further over and hidden by the ramp up to the flyover. They can be seen in this post in front of the retaining wall.

I’m not sure where actually Crossrail’s depot will be, but Wikipedia states that it will be at Old Oak Common. The article goes on to indicate that all will change again, when HS2 runs through the area.


July 16, 2015 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , | Leave a comment