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Independent Assessment of the Safety of Lithium Ion Batteries

Letter to Helen Whately MP

Dear Helen

Knowing the interest you have taken and concern you have expressed regarding the dangers inherent in the Cleve Hill Battery proposals, I am writing to update you on new specific scientific opinion. 

We would be grateful for any further influence you can bring to bear.

The attached is independent expert opinion submitted this week to Swale Borough Council by GREAT in its determination of the Battery Safety Management Plan for Cleve Hill. The principal author is Professor Peter P. Edwards FRS, Emeritus Professor of Inorganic Chemistry at the University of Oxford, who worked in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Professor John B. Goodenough FRS, the inventor of the Lithium-ion battery. He is regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities on LFP battery chemistry.

For convenience, summarised below are the  key points of their opinion:

1.       Any fire involving large-scale Li-ion battery storage must be regarded as a hazardous materials incident.

2.       The lack of oversight and advice from the Health and Safety Executive is a unique and concerning situation for such hazardous materials.

3.       The LFP batteries chosen for Cleve Hill pose more of an explosion hazard than other battery chemistries and attention is drawn to the relevance of their use in the only fatal BESS explosion to date in Beijing.

4.       A detailed account is provided for why the destructiveness of an explosion from LFP batteries is almost 100% greater than that of any other battery type.

5.       Research has demonstrated that the vapour cloud explosion can be much more damaging than the initial fire itself.

6.       The BSMP fails to take any account of this highly relevant explosion hazard.

7.       The BSMP fails to take account of the actual highly toxic air pollutants likely to be emitted in the event of a battery fire.

8.       This battery energy storage facility must be correctly classified as ‘’hazardous’’, having the potential to create highly dangerous events and hazardous substances posing a threat to site workers, fire-fighters, local people and the environment.

9.    Permissions for a Battery Energy Storage System at the Cleve Hill Solar Park should therefore be suspended until a proper National regulatory protocol has been established that takes account of all the Health and Safety issues with the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive and the Fire and Rescue Services being statutory consultees.

Kind regards

David

Professor Sir David Melville CBE

Vice-Chair

Faversham Society

December 8, 2023

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