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Labour candidate calls continuing noxious odours from Gething donor’s landfill site ‘completely unacceptable’

19 Jun 2024 5 minute read
A demonstration against the stench coming from the Withyhedge landfill site.

Martin Shipton

A Labour general election candidate has called the persistence of noxious odours from a landfill site owned by the convicted polluter who donated £200,000 to Vaughan Gething’s Welsh Labour leadership campaign “completely unacceptable” and deeply worrying for residents.

Henry Tufnell, who hopes to be elected the MP for Mid and South Pembrokeshire on July 4, made the comments after Public Health Wales re-issued advice to neighbours of the Withyhedge site near Haverfordwest owned by businessman David Neal.

Mr Neal has received two suspended prison sentences for dumping toxic sludge in the Gwent Levels protected landscape near Cardiff.

Nauseating

For more than six months, nauseating smells have emanated from the Pembrokeshire site, which is regulated by Natural Resources Wales (NRW).

A statement issued by Public Health Wales (PHW) said: “[We are reiterating our] advice to residents in the area around the Withyhedge landfill site, following our health risk assessment of air quality data collected between 1 March and 3 April 2024.

“PHW received the final data on 23 May 2024 to begin our risk assessment. The data suggests that, at times during March and April 2024, levels of hydrogen sulphide in the air around the site have been above the World Health Organization (WHO) odour annoyance guideline.

“PHW advice therefore remains that residents should keep doors and windows closed when the smells are present, and to seek medical advice if they feel unwell.

“When people are exposed to odours at levels above the WHO guideline value, they may experience effects such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, watery eyes, stuffy nose, irritated throat, cough or wheeze, sleep problems and stress.

“These are common reactions to nasty smells, and these effects should usually pass once the odour has gone. The long-term (lifetime) health risk is low.
“Public health advice to those exposed to the odours remains unchanged:

* Closing windows and doors when nasty smells occur, or when the wind is blowing from the landfill towards your home, can help to stop smells coming inside.

* Remember not to block windows or vents completely. This is because they provide air to vent cookers or heaters, and can help to control damp.

* Once an outdoor smell has passed, opening windows and doors will help get rid of any smells that remain.

“PHW maintains that reducing the cause or source of offsite odours from the landfill site must be a priority to reduce exposure and any potential health effects on the local community.

“We note that work to cap the site has now been completed. PHW welcomes plans to position static air monitoring around the site going forward to help capture more detailed data.”

Anxiety

Dr Sarah Jones, Consultant in Environmental Public Health for PHW said: “We recognise the real stress and anxiety that local people are under as a result of odours around the Withyhedge landfill site. Like local residents, we are very eager to see a rapid resolution to this issue. The health risk assessment will continue to be reviewed and updated as more monitoring data is made available to us.”

Chair of the Air Quality Group for the Multi-Agency Incident Management team Gaynor Toft said: “We note the risk assessment from Public Health Wales and continue to refine and develop the air quality monitoring programme in the vicinity of the landfill site. Suitable static monitoring locations are being identified for the siting of equipment.

“We continue to work in collaboration as the Air Quality Group to ensure that robust data is collated to inform future PHW assessments.”

Huwel Manley of NRW said: “We acknowledge the report and will continue to use our regulatory powers to drive improvements on site to address causes of odour affecting the community.”

Enforcement action

An NRW spokesman added: “Our regulatory presence at Withyhedge landfill is ongoing. Officers visited the site last week and a Compliance Assessment Report (CAR) has been produced. Having a regular presence on site helps us to determine if further enforcement action is required, taking into consideration all the options available to us under the regulations.

“We are reviewing documents submitted to us by the operator, RML [owned by Mr Neal] as required by actions in previous CARs, and finalising the findings following the detailed audit of the gas collection system. We are meeting with the directors of RML this week to discuss the outcome of the audit.

“We are also progressing an investigation with a view to it being determined whether charges should be brought for any offence relating to breaches of environmental permit conditions. We cannot provide further detail at this time.

“Bringing this issue to an end continues to be a priority for all partners involved, and we will not stop until the operator at Withyhedge demonstrates that it is effectively managing the odours from its operation.”

Henry Tufnell visits Withyhedge landfill site

‘Deeply worrying’

Mr Tufnell said: “The ongoing situation at the Withyhedge landfill site is completely unacceptable, as well as deeply worrying for residents.

“The data released today shows what residents already knew was happening in the spring. Since this time, the site has been capped and I would expect residents to see a rapidly improving situation. They should expect nothing less.

“Residents deserve an MP who uses the full weight of their office to press for action from NRW and PHW. That’s exactly what I’d do as MP.

I will continue to stand with and advocate for the local community.”


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Evan Aled Bayton
Evan Aled Bayton
26 days ago

Hydrogen Sulphide is as poisonous as Cyanide. It’s not the smell per se that causes symptoms it is the inhalation of a toxic gas at sublethal levels for prolonged periods. The consequences of this are not fully known as I understand it. There may well be long term detrimental effects. My advice to the village is to draw the attention of the authorities to this aspect and also to engage a lawyer to sue the perpetrators for as much compensation as they can possibly get both for the immediate inconvenience and for potential long term consequences. There have been other… Read more »

Mawkernewek
Mawkernewek
25 days ago

I’m not sure why they just advise people to close windows, its not like typical houses are anywhere near airtight so it just seems like giving out advice that won’t work anyway just to say something.

Linda Jones
Linda Jones
26 days ago

Clearly the problem is not being dealt with seriously by the company or any of those involved. It should never have been going on for so long nor should such toxic smells have existed in the first place. How does Mr Neil get away with it? Dubious donations to Gething comes to mind.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
25 days ago
Reply to  Linda Jones

Who or what occupies the space in-between…? NRW…!

Rich
Rich
25 days ago

Me thinks trouble ahead for the Labour Welsh Section from a new batch of islington luvies loyal to their leader

Dai Ponty
Dai Ponty
25 days ago

There is a terrible stench coming from Gethin for GREED

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
25 days ago

Bigging up the parachutists now, honestly, your enemy’s enemy is still your enemy…

Honest Welsh
Honest Welsh
25 days ago

This is unbelievable that this is allowed to continue
The place should have been shut down months ago
It looks like
Who pays the piper calls the tune
There is more than one stink going on.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
25 days ago
Reply to  Honest Welsh

Yea, game playing or gaming a situation, or just totally useless buck passers…

Richard Davies
Richard Davies
25 days ago

It is criminal that the stench has been able to linger for so long with no-one truly doing anything about it! The Withyhedge landfill site also needs remedying as soon as possible too!

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