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Brofiscin Remediation Package Identified

Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council (RCTCBC) and Environment Agency Wales (EAW) have worked together to gain a better understanding of the situation at Brofiscin Quarry. Our investigations have enabled us to develop an appropriate remediation package.

EAW investigations have identified that the most appropriate remediation option is to place an engineered cap over the waste mass in the quarry. This option ncludes a surface water and vapour control scheme. Capping the quarry will prevent rain running into the contaminated land. This will stop people and animals coming into contact with the waste and significantly reduce water pollution from the quarry.

Key findings of the Human Health Study

The final investigation of the quarry has been completed by Consultants on behalf of RCTCBC. The study looked at the potential for the quarry to have an impact on the health of local residents and people who visit the site.

More specifically, it looked at the Significant Possibility of Significant Harm (SPOSH) in relation to risks to human health. SPOSH is a term used in contaminated land legislation where the Council, as regulator, needs to consider the nature and degree of land contamination present to establish any requirement for future remediation action. SPOSH does not necessarily mean that the site will cause harm to health. It does mean that there is sufficient evidence to allow us to take action to address potential risks where necessary.

The findings from these investigations have also been analysed by independent experts at Public Health Wales and the Health Protection Agency (HPA).

There were no significant risks to health identified from the results of ambient air and dust monitoring both within and outside the boundary of the quarry. Previous work had identified polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) present in the surface soils within the quarry. This new study has confirmed the presence of PCBs and dioxins at levels which could potentially present SPOSH if your skin came into frequent contact with the contaminated soil or if you ingested it regularly. PCBs have also been found in the oily sheen associated with surface water on site. It is however important to note that this is only a risk inside the quarry boundary. As exposure by direct contact or ingestion on a frequent or regular basis is unlikely, the risk to residents living in the vicinity is not considered significant. The capping proposal will prevent people coming into contact with the contaminated soil and oily sheens.

During periods of wet weather, surface water from the site can flow over land alongside a public right of way that borders the north east of the quarry. At times, an oily sheen appears on this water which may contain PCBs and potentially present SPOSH if touched or ingested. Public health professionals have concluded that as this exposure is only a risk if the water is touched or ingested it is unlikely that exposures from normal activities in this area would be sufficient to substantially increase risk. The remediation scheme will address oily sheens on surface water which leave the site.

Ground vapour monitoring within the vicinity of the site found chemicals which may have migrated from the quarry. The consultants investigated the possibility of the ground vapour entering homes. The chemicals in the ground vapour are also commonly found in air as they can originate from petrol exhaust fumes, tobacco smoke and various household products.

Analysis of the results led the consultants to conclude there is potential for SPOSH to exist based on a lifetime exposure to the ground vapour if it was able to enter the home in sufficient quantities. The consultants used worst case scenarios when assessing how much is able to enter the home. Residents can be reassured that public health professionals have confirmed there is no evidence to suggest any adverse health effects are likely to have occurred in the community from exposure to contaminants at Brofiscin Quarry. However, as a potential for SPOSH from ground vapour has been identified, it will be addressed as part of the remediation package.

The Partner agencies, namely RCTCBC, EAW, Cwm Taf Local Health Board, Public Health Wales and the HPA, are committed to adopting a precautionary approach where matters of health protection are concerned. The remediation package therefore seeks to address any potential risks to human health as well as the pollution of controlled waters.

Appropriate Persons

We have completed our extensive enquiries to identify those we consider should be held responsible under the contaminated land laws and be held liable for the cost of remediating Brofiscin Quarry. We are at an advanced stage in our consultations with BP, Veolia and Monsanto to provide them with the opportunity to help remediate the land on a voluntary basis. We expect to make further progress on this matter in the next few months. If this approach is unsuccessful, we have the power to carry out the work needed ourselves and recover our costs.  The three companies have been identified under the legislation as inheriting the liabilities of companies who were associated with depositing wastes at the quarry.