LOCAL AUTHORITIES should be forced to reveal more financial information about their in-house waste disposal firms and not hide behind commercial confidentiality, Welsh Assembly members said this week.
The members said that the 1990 Environmental Protection Act should be changed to force waste disposal firms to disclose more information about their financial status.
This would enable people living near landfill sites to see how financially robust these companies were and assess their ability to manage sites effectively and carry out remedial work.
The Welsh Assembly's Environment Planning and Transport Committee called for the changes last week in its report on the Nantygwyddon landfill site in Rhonddha, Wales.
One of the owners of the site, Rhondda Waste Disposal, which is owned by Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council, went into administration in 1999. Amgen Rhondda, another Rhondda Cynon Taff owned company, subsequently took over the site (NCE 31 January).
An independent report into the site claims that it has polluted local ground water and that it posed a health risk, although the Environment Agency has rejected these claims.
When the site was handed over to the second firm, local people were unable to find out whether the new firm had enough funds to carry out the emergency work needed on the site because of commercial confidentiality.
This also prevented the Assembly's official investigator into the site from obtaining full details about the site.
The Committee said people potentially affected by the management of waste disposal sites should be able to see details of how financially stable a company is, and where and how council tax money is being spent.
'We consider that where waste disposal companies are publicly owned and funded, commercial confidentiality should not apply, ' says the Committee's report.
The Assembly is expected to make a decision on how to proceed with the site later this year.