Residents and councillors call for public enquiry into pollution at Ty Llwyd quarry
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
Calls for a public inquiry into pollution concerns at an Ynysddu quarry are set to be presented to councillors next week.
Ty Llwyd quarry is believed to contain highly carcinogenic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) – a group of man-made chemicals widely used in the manufacture of electronics.
It is thought the PCBs were dumped there by chemical firm Monsanto from its Newport factory decades ago.
Ynysddu residents and councillors have described a “toxic smell” coming from the council-owned quarry and the nearby community woodlands, where children can be found playing.
Independent councillors Janine Reed and Jan Jones put forward the notice of motion for a public inquiry by Welsh Government. The motion questions whether the current system of managing the quarry is “fit for purpose”.
At a meeting on Tuesday May 2 the motion will be discussed and debated by the council’s environment and sustainability scrutinee committee, before recommendations are made and passed on to full council.
The quarry is one of a number of suspected Monsanto dump sites across south Wales. Brofiscin Quarry, in Groesfaen, Rhondda Cynon Taf, is the only one designated as contaminated land at the moment – and campaigners want Ty Llwyd to have the same status.
Independent councillor Reed said the leachate overflows into the Pantyffynnon Woodland and beyond, and could be running into the two nearby rivers – the Sirhowy and Ebbw.
Cllr Reed said: “At the moment it’s a community woodlands and there’s a public footpath which people use to walk their dogs.
“I’m worried sick about people going in to the woodlands but I can’t do anything because the council are currently saying it’s not contaminated.”
Investigations into pollutants at the quarry have taken place. The council and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) are expected to report back to the Welsh Government on whether action is required.
Jon Goldsworthy, operations manager at NRW, said it is in discussions with the council over the “potential requirement for an environmental permit”.
An environmental permit is needed if you are going to make a discharge to surface water, such as a river, stream, estuary, or the sea. A permit details the standards and measures you must maintain to control the discharge via a set of conditions.
Mr Goldsworthy added: “As the council considers the possible improvement options, we will continue to provide technical advice and review any remediation proposals produced to ensure people and the environment are protected.
“Our investigation into the pollution incident at Ynysddu in January is ongoing. We have received the full suite of sample results which are currently being interpreted.
“Once this process has been completed, appropriate and proportionate action will be determined.
“If anyone sees any further signs of pollution in the area, they should report it to our incident hotline on 0300 065 3000.”
Council leader Sean Morgan has previously said the council-built aeration chamber is to be upgraded to hold more water and additional fencing is to be put up to secure the site.
The Labour councillor for Nelson said: “There are obviously some issues when we have heavy downfalls. We’re upgrading the aeration chamber to make sure it can cope with the extra flow of water.
“We’re also increasing the amount of fencing around there to stop residents accessing any parts, especially where the chamber is. We need to make sure the site is more secure.”
Ynysddu residents are expected to be kept updated on work being done at the quarry via letters.
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