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No health risks from 'noxious' smelly landfill site in Walsall, say pollution officers

By Gurdip Thandi | Walsall | News | Published:

Residents living near a Walsall rubbish dump have been told they are not being exposed to any health risks despite the "noxious" smells coming from the site.

Residents have complained about feeling sick due to the smell from this site

A petition demanding action be taken to stop the “noxious, gassy, eggy smells” emanating from Highfields Landfill Site, off Walsall Road, has so far been signed by more than 3,300 people.

Walsall Wood resident Natalie Gallagher said the smells were causing sickness and asked Walsall Council if the community is facing significant health risks and whether Enovert – which runs the site – was in breach of licensing conditions.

However pollution control officers have taken samples and concluded there are no risks to the health of residents, Walsall Council leader Mike Bird said, adding that it is the Environment Agency and not the council that is responsible for supervising the site.

People living in the area said they have been having to put up with the smells for months while businesses said they are losing trade as a result.

Enovert have said they are working to get to the root of the problem and are keen to work with local councillors and residents to discuss the issue.

'Disturbed sleep and headaches'

Mrs Gallagher said: “Many thousands of residents in the Walsall Wood, Shelfield and surrounding areas have been suffering the horrific smell for many months now.

“Residents have reported a noxious, gassy, eggy smells coming into their homes day and night. I and my family have suffered this first hand, living approximately half a mile from the site ourselves.

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The landfill site on Walsall Road, Walsall Wood

“We continue to have disturbed sleep, headaches, nausea and in some cases we have actually been sick when the smell is at its strongest.

“The maximum occupational health limits for a short period of exposure to hydrogen sulphide is 10ppm over eight hours but when this gas is in our homes, building up in our bedrooms overnight and being breathed in by our children, who knows what these levels are, especially when the gas is even stronger outside and fresh air isn’t available.

“Public Health England claim there are no health implications from a well-managed landfill site. However, in my opinion, I would disagree that this site is well managed.

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“Several explanations have been given for the sudden increase in smell and therefore no single factor can be blamed, for example, weather conditions.”

'Landfill no significant risk'

Councillor Bird said: “In response to concerns of local residents, pollution control officers commenced sampling on February 3.

“The Public Health England position is that living close to a well-managed landfill site does not pose a significant risk to human health.

The landfill site on Walsall Road, Walsall Wood

“Based on the information and evidence collated to date, officers do not consider Highfields landfill to pose a significant risk to health.

“Nevertheless, monitoring will continue to provide reassurance to local residents.”

He added: “The Environment Agency are the supervisory body, not Walsall Council, responsible for regulating the environmental permit held by Enovert for the operation of the Highfields landfill.

“Within the permit , there are conditions concerning the operation of the site including emissions and monitoring. As the primary regulator, the EA are empowered to exercise direct controls or sanctions at the site.

“The council are under a statutory duty to take reasonable steps to investigate complaints of alleged nuisance.

“However, in the case of installations permitted by the EA, these powers are restricted.

“Officers are empowered to issue an abatement notice but this is open to challenge and unlikely to achieve a speedy resolution if works are underway to improve the management of odour.

“In this instance, the EA are best placed to respond to any potential breach in licence conditions and council officers will support them, as required.”

Gurdip Thandi

By Gurdip Thandi
@Gurdo

Local Democracy Reporter covering Walsall.

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