Boris Johnson to be sent letter as fears grow over Walleys Quarry stink health impact


Councillors will write to Boris Johnson and cabinet ministers to raise concerns over the health impacts of a controversial landfill site.

Members of the health and care scrutiny committee at Staffordshire County Council agreed to send the letters after hearing evidence from public health experts on Walleys Quarry landfill in Silverdale.

The site has been subject to thousands of complaints from members of the public – mostly relating to the stink of hydrogen sulphide (H2S) emissions in the surrounding areas.

Committee members heard how Public Health England was growing increasingly concerned over the potential implications of long-term exposure to hydrogen sulphide on people with underlying health conditions.

Ovnair Sepai, principal toxicologist at PHE, told the councillors that officials had previously made their risk assessments on the basis of exposure to relatively low levels of H2S being limited to three months.

Dr Sepai said: “Our concern grew when we realised that the exposure was going to continue for a longer period of time. So then we have to compare to a guidance value that is appropriate for that extended exposure period.

“That’s when we have said, yes, at present, for members of the public who are healthy and have no underlying health conditions, we wouldn’t expect there to be any severe health implications.

“But in the population that may be asthmatic or have other respiratory conditions this continued exposure may exacerbate that condition. That’s why we are concerned, and why we would want to see that exposure reduced to a level that would alleviate those problems.”



Walleys Quarry protest
Walleys Quarry protest

After hearing from PHE experts, NHS officials, as well as Richard Harling, the council’s own director of health and social care, the committee members agreed to write to the Prime Minister, Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick.

The letters will set out the committee’s concerns over the impacts of long-term exposure to H2S, both on residents’ physical health and their mental health too.



Want a free daily bulletin which includes all the latest Covid-19 news – plus breaking news alerts direct to your inbox? Then sign up to our email newsletter service by clicking here.

Decide later that you no longer wish to receive the emails? No problem – you can just follow the unsubscribe link.

Speaking after the meeting, committee chairman Jeremy Pert, said: “This committee doesn’t have the power to call directly for the closure of Walleys Quarry but if the concerns we raise about the impact it is having on residents’ physical and mental wellbeing lead to an urgent and focused response, then this is what the committee want to impress on everyone involved.

“I am unimpressed that this issue has been going since the beginning of the year and we are not a lot further forward in solving it.

“There is no definite end date in sight and all the while this continues residents suffer physically and mentally.”

Committee members also called for future reassurance regarding the safety of those employed at Walleys Quarry.

The Environment Agency has been carrying out air quality monitoring in the areas surrounding Walleys Quarry, following a surge in residents’ complaints last year.

While hydrogen sulphide levels have remained below the World Health Organisation’s ‘health’ threshold – apart from a spike in March – they have frequently breached the ‘annoyance’ threshold, especially in Galingale View.

Nigel Bowen, chief executive of landfill site operator Walleys Quarry Ltd, said: “We are aware that Staffordshire County Council’s Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee held a meeting yesterday, alongside the Environment Agency and other parties, to discuss Walleys Quarry.

“Over the last few months, we have been working tirelessly on a series of measures that have been identified by us and put in place in conjunction with the Environment Agency relating to the ongoing odour issue. Progress is being made, which is due, in part, to the close work we have done with the Agency.

“On behalf of the local community, we remain committed to doing everything that is within our powers to help remedy the situation as soon as possible.”





Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *