• Toxic waste may have contaminated British UNESCO site, say councillors

Environmental Laboratory

Toxic waste may have contaminated British UNESCO site, say councillors

Sep 08 2023

In a concerning development, Green Party members from the locality have sounded the alarm over a possible toxic waste spill from an old landfill that could be contaminating the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire. This UNESCO World Heritage site stands as a testament to the Industrial Revolution, having been one of its pivotal birthplaces during the 18th century. 

The landfill in question, located at Stoneyhill to the south-east of Telford and overlooking the historic Ironbridge Gorge, is suspected to hold hazardous waste. Environmental activists suspect that Monsanto, a now-defunct chemical manufacturer known for its reckless disposal practices, might have dumped significant amounts of toxic waste there. The proximity of a new housing development to this landfill has further intensified concerns. 

Historically, Monsanto has faced numerous pollution liabilities in the U.S., amounting to billions. Yet, they have evaded any compensatory actions in the UK, even though records indicate their involvement in dumping vast quantities of chemical waste across England and Wales. 

According to data from the Environment Agency (EA), from February 1985 to March 1991, the Stoneyhill site received a range of waste types, including some classified as hazardous. Pat McCarthy, the coordinator for Telford and Wrekin Green Party, emphasized the urgency of the situation in a statement to the press, saying, “There is a need to clarify what’s in the ground and the potential dangers it poses to local residents, wildlife, and waterways.” 

Reverend Paul Cawthorne, a staunch investigator of Monsanto's dumping practices, recalled seeing extensive records two decades ago at an EA office detailing the waste at Stoneyhill. However, the EA has now reportedly denied the existence of such records. Moreover, Rev. Cawthorne mentioned photographic evidence showing the careless dumping of barrels from Monsanto's factory. While these images are held by the PA news agency, they remain unpublished due to copyright restrictions. 

While Telford and Wrekin Council acknowledged the arrival of chemical waste from Monsanto, they cited EA records to claim it wasn't toxic. They also mentioned consistent testing of the landfill and adjacent waters. Results from the latest test in January reportedly showed no signs of uncontrolled leakage from the site. 

However, Green Party members from Telford and Wrekin aren't convinced. Some have observed recent liquid discharges at the landfill's periphery. A Green Party member, choosing to stay anonymous, noted an unusual odor around the site and expressed concerns about potential contamination flowing towards the renowned Ironbridge Gorge. 

McCarthy has reached out to the EA regarding the possible pollution, but the agency hasn't yet responded. He voiced his concerns, saying, “There's a significant lack of transparency and a potential cover-up by both local agencies and the council. It feels as though community concerns are sidelined.” 

Similarly, Rev. Cawthorne criticized the council for their lack of honesty, particularly regarding details that potential homeowners should be aware of. He recalled, “I was shown a comprehensive record of the dumped materials at Stoneyhill. Those records must be somewhere, and the public deserves to know.” 

Concluding on a note of assurance, the Telford and Wrekin Council stated that they actively manage the closed landfill site in compliance with government regulations. The unfolding story underscores the need for thorough investigations and greater transparency in the interest of public safety. 


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