Posted: Thu 22nd Feb 2024

Call for map of toxic sites across Wales to help protect communities

Wrexham.com for people living in or visiting the Wrexham area
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Feb 22nd, 2024

A map of toxic sites across Wales should be established to better inform the public of the dangers in their communities, the Senedd heard.

Peredur Owen Griffiths called for a register during first minister’s questions as he argued people have a right to know the location of historic toxic sites.

He pointed to the example set by newly published maps of category C and D coal tips on the Welsh Government’s website.

The Plaid Cymru MS, who represents South Wales East, urged ministers to set up a taskforce to pull together the relevant agencies pursuing polluters.

‘Dumping’

Mr Owen Griffiths warned: “Unfortunately, there are many toxic sites throughout our country as a result of our industrial heritage and multinational corporations using us as a dumping ground for all sorts of nasty chemicals.

“These corporations may have long since disappeared from our communities, but the legacy of their work lingers on with polluted watercourses.”

Mark Drakeford agreed that the landscape of Wales is scattered with examples of the legacy of events that happened many years ago.

He said the disused mines bill, which will be brought forward this year, is being designed with the possibility of extending its scope to other forms of industrial legacy beyond coaltips.

However, the first minister warned that there will not be a swift route to such a register.

‘Fallout’

Laura Anne Jones raised concerns about the Tŷ Llwyd quarry in Ynysddu, near Caerphilly, warning that toxic chemicals have leaked into a woodland used by children and dog walkers.

The Conservative MS, who represents South Wales East, said Monsanto – a now-defunct chemical manufacturer – agreed to clean up the quarry in 2011.

“Yet 13 years later, my constituents are still having to deal with that fallout,” she said.

Ms Jones told the chamber that the drainage system is inadequate and contaminated water remains a health-and-safety risk.

Prof Drakeford stressed that regulators do not consider Tŷ Llwyd to be a risk to public health.

He pointed out that it was Caerphilly County Borough Council that identified the quarry as a cause of concern in the 1990s.

The first minister explained that the council has commissioned Arcadis to look into options for managing the site in future.

‘Severe’

He said: “An era of climate change … severe weather events, including concentrated rainfall, has rendered the challenge at that site more significant than it would have been in the past.”

Prof Drakeford said consultants have narrowed the scope of their work to four options and a report has been presented to the council.

He added that a monitoring programme being carried out by Natural Resources Wales this winter will look into ground and surface water, helping to further refine the options.

He told MSs: “When those options are refined, I imagine it will lead to the council needing to apply for an environmental permit for the way in which the site is managed in future.

“I would anticipate there will be stringent conditions attached to that permit to make sure local residents can have confidence that there isn’t leachate from that site which would cause environmental and public health damage.”

‘Untruths’

Caerphilly MS Hefin David focused on proposals to reclaim Bedwas tips, saying a company is interested in remediating the tips at no cost to the public purse.

“When you’re talking of upwards of £30m, that’s a significant offer to be considered,” said the Labour backbencher.

“There has been, unfortunately, some opposition councillors spreading, through leaflets, some direct untruths about the project.

“I think we need to keep an open mind about what the project will entail.

“We need to make sure proper processes are followed to ensure the public have their say.”

Prof Drakeford said the proposals are at a pre-planning application phase as he welcomed public exhibitions being held in Bedwas and Cwmfelinfach.

He told the meeting on Tuesday February 20 that people will be able to voice any concerns for consideration when a full planning application is made.

By Chris Haines, ICNN Senedd reporter



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