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Monsanto, BP and Veolia agree to pay for cleanup of contaminated Welsh site

Five decades after toxic waste from a Monsanto plant was dumped at Brofiscin quarry in south Wales, companies agree to pay towards cleanup costs

Monsanto, BP and Veolia have agreed to pay to contribute to the cleanup of a former quarry in South Wales that was polluted with a cocktail of toxic waste, including Agent Orange derivatives, dioxins and PCBs.

The agreement, confirmed by Welsh officials to the Guardian, marks the end of a five-decade-long saga that began when thousands of tonnes of chemical and industrial waste from a Monsanto-owned plant in Newport was dumped at the Brofiscin quarry, near the village of Groesfaen, in the 1960s and 70s.

Waste from BP was also dumped at the site, less than 10 miles from Cardiff, while Veolia acquired the contractors originally responsible for disposing of the waste from Monsanto.

Although officials at the Department for the Environment were aware of the site having been contaminated in 1978 – and later described it as one of the most contaminated sites in Wales – it was not until 2005 that efforts to try and clean up the site began.

By 2011, officials had concluded that the leaking of dangerous toxins from the corroding waste containers buried underground had the potential to pose a significant health risk to local residents and members of the public using a nearby footpath.

That same year, officials at the Environment Agency in Wales said that Monsanto, BP and Veolia were liable for the contamination and should pay the cost of cleaning up the site. All three companies refused to accept liability for the pollution, forcing the authorities, who feared an expensive legal battle, to foot the £1.25m bill for the works, completed in 2012. Officials said at the time they would continue to attempt to recover the costs.

Now, three years later, Natural Resources Wales, which took over the role of Environment Agency Wales in 2013, confirmed that they had finally come to an agreement with Monsanto, BP and Veolia to cover the cleanup bill. However, all three continue to deny liability, and the value of the settlement has not been disclosed.

A spokesperson for Monsanto said: “We have reached an agreement with the Environment Agency Wales resolving our alleged liability associated with the quarry.”

A spokesperson for BP said: “BP did not directly use the Brofiscin quarry and has not been found liable for its clean up; this relates to material that we potentially consigned to a waste disposal contractor that used the quarry more than 40 years ago. BP reached agreement in May 2015 with Natural Resources Wales to make a goodwill contribution towards part of the cleanup costs incurred at the Brofiscin site.”

A spokesperson for Veolia said: “The case of the Brofiscin Landfill relates to activities carried out by a company that had ceased to operate and had not functioned for a lengthy period prior to Veolia’s acquisition of the Cleanaway group of companies in 2006.

“Veolia has, for some while, been in dialogue with the Natural Resources Wales and others to devise a no-fault solution to key issues at Brofiscin that dealt with matters responsibly and ensured the site was safe and secure going forward. Veolia confirms that it made a voluntary contribution to the cost of the remediation works that have been carried out at the site and is pleased that these have now been effected.”

Guardian News
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