An MP has accused environmental regulators of failing to investigate a potential leak of a toxic chemical from a South Wales landfill.
Ty Llwyd Quarry in Ynysddu, a small village north of Cardiff, is believed to contain highly carcinogenic PCBs from toxic waste dumped there from a Newport factory in the 1960s and 1970s.
Residents fear the chemicals leaching through the forest where children play, next to their homes and into the Sirhowy River during periods of heavy rain.
Research into marine wildlife in the UK has shown that PCBs have a devastating effect on killer whales, bottlenose dolphins and other mammals.
Chris Evans, Labor MP for Islwyn, called for a “full inquiry” at Ty Llwyd and said he was “very disappointed” by Natural Resources Wales (NRW)’s response so far.
NRW said it takes the reports seriously and will take enforcement action if necessary.
Mr Evans told the PA news agency: “Is it dangerous? We don’t know because we haven’t been there. If it’s getting into the Celtic Sea, as people suspect, then we need to know.
“There should be a full investigation there. Natural Resources Wales needs to take this seriously.
“I’ve been very disappointed with them on a number of issues over the years and it’s just another issue that I don’t think they’ve adequately addressed at the moment.
“They seem to be very slow to respond to complaints and this is not an isolated case. It seems to happen to them over and over again.”
Ynysddu resident Olwen Williams, whose brother’s farm next to where she lives was bought out in a forced buyout due to contamination, said children were playing in the woods below Ty Llwyd where a foul-smelling brown frothy liquid was flowing that likely contained PCBs.
PCBs were used in electrical equipment and manufactured by industrial chemical manufacturer Monsanto, which previously owned the Newport facility, until they were banned by the UK government in 1981.
Caerphilly County Borough Council (CCBC), owners of the quarry and the land beneath it, have since put up tapes and signs warning people to stay away.
An NRW spokesperson said: “For historic sites that are not regulated by NRW, local authorities, as the main regulators, have a statutory duty to inspect their areas to identify potentially contaminated land.
“As soon as we received reports of a potential pollution incident in the Ynysddu area of Caerphilly, we went to the site to investigate and collect samples.
“These are being analyzed at our laboratory in Swansea and we continue to work closely with Caerphilly Council as part of the ongoing investigative process. All appropriate enforcement action will be taken if necessary.”
Peredur Owen Griffiths of Plaid Cymru, a member of the South East Wales Senedd, said the council was not doing well on environmental issues and said it should be more transparent with residents on the issue.
He said: “That Caerphilly County Council does not have a good track record of dealing with environmental issues is a narrative that has developed over time.
“And unfortunately, they don’t seem to be dealing with these toxic sites right now.
“Every time there are questions about it, they seem pretty defensive. When someone is asked about it, he replies that it’s not his plot.”
Mr Griffiths also called on Julie James, Minister for the Environment and NRW to take charge of the situation.
He said: “Now it’s about making sure the council, Senedd and NRW are united around who’s responsible for what and then resources can be made available to make sure that the toxic chemicals that are potentially getting into our communities don’t have impact on our communities waterways and streets where children play.
Despite the existence of dozens of suspected chemical dumps across the region, only the Brofiscin quarry in Rhondda Cynon Taf has been classified as such and cleaned up after it was found to be polluting local water sources with PCBs, dioxins and Agent Orange derivatives.
Monsanto, BP and Veolia agreed to pay for the remediation but did not accept legal responsibility for the pollution.
A CCBC spokesperson said of Ty Llwyd: “The monitoring undertaken showed that there was no evidence of widespread impacts on surface water quality and it was determined at the time that the site was unlikely to meet the definition of contaminated land.
“We still believe so, but we are undertaking further monitoring to confirm this.”
A Welsh Government spokesman added: “We have discussed concerns with Caerphilly and Wales Natural Resources Council. As lead regulator, the council is reviewing the closed landfill.”