Monsanto’s Toxic Legacy: righting the wrongs 50 years on

by Ty Llwyd Toxic Tip Action Group

Monsanto’s Toxic Legacy: righting the wrongs 50 years on

by Ty Llwyd Toxic Tip Action Group
Ty Llwyd Toxic Tip Action Group
Case Owner
Ty LLwyd Toxic Tip Action Group is made of residents and a small advisory team that also has wider concerns about the tipping of PCBs over 12 or more tips in Wales and England.
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Ty Llwyd Toxic Tip Action Group
Case Owner
Ty LLwyd Toxic Tip Action Group is made of residents and a small advisory team that also has wider concerns about the tipping of PCBs over 12 or more tips in Wales and England.
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More than 50 years since toxic waste was last dumped, Ty Llwyd Quarry continues to leak its toxic content into river,  groundwater and soil.  Despite ample evidence that measures to contain the toxic legacy of Monsanto and other companies were not working, those responsible for managing the site have steadfastly refused to declare the site contaminated land within The Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990 Part 2A primary legislation.

In February 1970, Ty Llwyd Quarry, located high above the River Sirhowy near Caerphilly, was selected to received toxic (special) wastes from many sources including Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) from Monsanto’s manufacturing plant on the banks of the River Usk at Newport, Gwent. Toxic waste dumping continued for two years. Records of what was dumped, how much and from where were not available when Caerphilly CounBC were asked via a Freedom of Information request. However, they did confirm that the list of chemicals included PCBs.

After the tipping ended in 1972, attempts to prevent PCBs and other toxic chemicals leaking from Ty Llwyd Quarry by covering it with an “interim cap” were unsuccessful and water penetrated the waste and then escaped from the site by overflowing over the lower edge of the quarry through cracks in surrounding rocks.  Evidence of the site leaking toxic chemical was documented in 1989 when several springs and wells were found to be contaminated.

In 1990 Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Pollution (HMIP - now part of Natural Resources Wales) recommended excavation, off-site haulage and destruction of the waste.  HMIP was opposed to the entombment of persistent wastes that simply stores up problems for a later date.

In 1996, wildlife samples taken in the River Sirhowy below the quarry were found to contain a range of different PCBs at levels well above what would be expected in a “clean“ river. PCBs are organochlorine chemicals that are carcinogenic and hormone disrupting. Some PCBs are described as “dioxin-like” and like dioxins they are very stable and persistent in the environment predominantly in sediments in river bottoms. One of their most significant properties is that they are more soluble in fat than water. This means that if they enter an ecosystem, they find their way into the fatty tissues of animals. They become more and more concentrated at each level of the food chain through invertebrates, such as shrimps, to fish to top predators, such as herons, dolphins, porpoises, orcas and otters that come off worst.

In 2001, a report explicitly stated that the site was contaminated land within EPA Part 2A.

In 2016 and 2018 consultants investigated further leaks from the site.

In 2022, analysis of samples from the site taken by Caerphilly CBC tested positive for 6 different PCBs.

At present toxic leachate is being discharged from the tip into a community woodland.

Caerphilly CBC and Natural Resources Wales hide behind consultant’s reports that only consider leachate management rather than wholesale action to clean up the site once and for all with complete containment.

Several legal actions from US states, cities, workers and local residents seeking compensation for PCB contamination and harm have been successful, with one award alone totalling> $500million. Total awards now exceed $2 billion and rising.

We need to raise an initial target of £5,000 to get further legal advice to explore a legal challenge. The aim will be to do what should have been done at least 30 years ago – ensure the site is safe and the river, woodland and village environment are not harmed.

A successful resolution of the toxic pollution leaking from Ty Llwyd Quarry may provide the catalyst to deal with the more than a dozen other sites where Monsanto’s toxic chemicals exist.

Many thanks to you all.

For more background on the toxic legacy of Ty Llwyd Quarry see

https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001m6vs/countryfile-cumbrian-shepherdess-spring

12 minutes in (TV licence required).


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