19 August 2003

Compensation could be paid over South Wales landfill site

The operator of a landfill in South Wales could pay out an estimated 1.25m to 250 residents who have made claims alleging nuisance from the site.

Residents told letsrecycle.com today that the money will be paid because of historical problems associated with the Trecatti landfill site at Dowlais, north east of Merthyr Tydfil.

Neither the operator of the Trecatti landfill site, near Merthyr Tydfil, Biffa Waste Services, nor the solicitors representing the claimants would comment on the matter for “confidentiality” reasons.

However, a spokesman for Biffa told letsrecycle.com: “The landfill continues to be run as it is, accepted by the Environment Agency Wales as one of the best-managed sites in the country.”

The Trecatti landfill is one of the largest landfill sites in Europe, taking in around 400,000 tonnes of domestic, industrial, commercial and special wastes each year. About 95% of waste going to the site comes from the South Wales area.

Previously, it had been a smaller site, on land formerly used for open-cast coal mining and run by Merthyr Tydfil borough council since 1987. Biffa Waste Services took over the running of the 44-hectare site in 1993, developing the site with an onsite leachate treatment plant and gaining a licence for the site to take difficult wastes. The site currently has 15 to 20 years of capacity remaining.

Local residents had raised concerns about the site with the borough council since before 1994. Complaints were mainly of odours, although there were allegations of dust, litter, fly infestation and health problems including runny noses and burning eyes. These complaints peaked in 1995, according to Hugh James Solicitors, who assisted local people with their complaints. This peak was related to the disposal of commercial waste containing calcium sulphide. In March 1995, the site stopped accepting this type of waste, and the complaints of odour dropped.

A writ was issued on behalf of 11 claimants on 4th October 1996. At the High Court on October 19, 2001, Mr Justice Thomas made an order that all claimants should register their claims by January 2002. It is thought the total number of claimants in the case reached at least 231 people.

One resident told letsrecycle.com that even if compensation was paid, the campaign over the perceived problems associated with the site would continue.

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