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Welsh Assembly at centre of row over landfill site

THE WELSH Assembly was this week caught up in a row over the future of the Nantygwyddon landfill site in South Wales after an independent landfill investigator recommended that the site be closed down.

An independent report commissioned by the Assembly has called for the site's closure, saying that it poses a health risk. But its findings were this week contradicted by the Environment Agency, which issued the site with a landfill licence.

The report produced for the Assembly was written by independent investigator David Purchon, a past president of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health.

The site is operated by waste firm Amgen Rhondda, a subsidiary of local council Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council.

In the report Purchon claims that the site is leaking leachate into the groundwater, giving off high levels of hydrogen sulphide gas odour and causing litter to be blown into nearby rivers.

But the Environment Agency said that Purchon's evidence of groundwater pollution was inconclusive.

Agency area environmental protection manager John Harrison this week told NCE that the Agency's own surveys had failed to show any leachate leaks.

He added that the Agency had carried out extensive gas monitoring in local people's homes and had not discovered any direct link between atmospheric changes and the landfill site.

In its formal response to the report, the Agency said: 'The report suggests the risks associated with the operation of Nantygwyddon remain considerable, whereas in reality, the site is now better managed with as low a risk as any other comparable landfill.'

But Purchon told NCE: 'I've seen the pipes leaking with my own eyes.'

He has also informed the Assembly that the Agency misled local residents by promising to close the site when the previous owner Rhondda Waste Disposal (RWDL) went into administration in January 1999.

Local residents had complained vigorously for several years about leaks, gas odours and litter from the site, said Purchon. The Agency has also given the company several breach of licence warnings.

The Assembly is expected to report on its initial assessment of Purchon's investigation.

Before that, it will show further evidence of how the site has been managed on 6 February at the Assembly offices in Cardiff.

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