A former architect who worked for Llanelli Borough Council and who claims he witnessed the burial of toxic materials at the site of the proposed Wellness Centre at Delta Lakes in Llanelli has claimed that politicians including local councillors have been ‘complicit’ in ‘burying’ or ‘ignoring’ the ‘toxic industrial past’, which he says poses ‘health risks’ to any future occupancy of the site and to any construction workers involved in working on the site.
The claims are being made by Clive Edwards and they appear to be supported by a geotechnical survey of the site carried out by one of the World’s leading technical specialists ARUP. In their publicly available document ‘Llanelli Wellness and Life Science Village (LWLV) Geotechnical and Geo-environmental Desk Study 16/9485 Issue | 8 November 2016’. They highlight a ‘highly toxic’ subterranean environment, which is a legacy from the area’s heavy industrial past and Llanelli Borough Council’s activities of filling in the Great Western Dock (part of the Delta Lakes site) with thousands of tonnes of industrial and household waste during the mid 20th century. There is also a clear plan showing a mains sewer line, which requires a 16m easement in order to carry out any future work. Plans show buildings clearly sited directly over the main line sewer.
Mr Edwards was scathing in his analysis of the potential threats to human and animal life as a result of what he described as ‘an historic toxic timebomb’ buried beneath the site of the proposed Wellness Centre.
Speaking to Llanelli Online Mr Edwards said that he could not believe that the site was going to be built on given the amount of toxic materials buried beneath the surface. He expressed incredulity that no councillors or politicians had spoken out given that they would have been in receipt of the same information he had in his possession, namely the ARUP Geotechnical report.
Mr Edwards expressed astonishment that no one appeared to be flagging up what he described as a ‘deadly list of contents’, which he claims are swimming around beneath the site.
The ARUP report lists the following as present on or near the site;
Asbestos, Metals (As, Cd, Cr, Cu, Pb, Hg, Ni, Se, Zn), sulphate, phenol, petroleum and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, volatile and semi volatile organic compounds and cyanide.
Bulk waste materials and refuse, including timber, ceramics, demolition materials, clothes, household wastes.
Hydrocarbons (including petroleum hydrocarbons and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) fuel oils, lubricating oils, greases, solvents, paints, heavy metals, asbestos, phenols and creosote. Possible historic herbicides used to control growth on tracks and sidings. Metals, sulphates, sulphides, cyanides, diesel petrol, mineral oil, phenols, aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides, timer preservatives (copper-chrome-arsenic creosote), asbestos, cleaning agents, chlorinated volatile organics, PAHs, PCBs.
Metals, inorganic compounds (phosphates, sulphides, cyanides, thiocyanate, fluoride), acids (sulphuric, hydrochloric, nitric, hydrofluoric), sodium hydroxide, calcium oxide, coal tars, PAHS, BTEX, fuel oils, lubricating oil, coal and coke, organic solvents, asbestos, PCBs.
The report lists (8.1.2 Potential Receptors): The receptors considered relevant to any existing contamination within the subsurface associated with the proposed development are identified as follows:
Construction workers involved in the development works Site end-users – residents of and visitors to the proposed housing On-site maintenance workers post completion of the development. Groundwater beneath the site (in bedrock and superficial deposits) classed as secondary ‘A’ aquifer. Building materials used in new development; particularly for services Off-site residents and workers Off-site groundwater, and surface waters, including that within estuary and New Dafen River Landscaping and vegetation – particularly in any private gardens
Another paragraph in the report (8.1.3 Potential Pathways) concludes:
For a risk to exist the (potential) sources and receptors must be connected by a viable pathway. Potential pathways by which human and environmental receptors may be impacted upon are as identified below:
Ingestion of contaminated soils and dust: during construction of the proposed development, site workers who are dealing closely with excavated soils may come into contact with contaminants through ingestion of soils and dust. Site end users may also be impacted by the ingestion of soils and dust should areas of open ground remain post completion of the development or private gardens be created – with existing soils at or near surface. In addition, ingestion of contaminated soils may occur should vegetable patches be present in private gardens and grown vegetables be consumed by residents.
A former Llanelli councillor who did not wish to be named also raised concerns and claimed that they remembered that the area of land was previously a Docks which was filled in with many varied substances including rubbish, wood, hardcore, and other waste materials. The claims have been substantiated in the ARUP report of November 2016. The former councillor claims that records kept by Llanelli Borough Council show that they had no plans to develop the area for residential purposes.
The former councillor also raised concerns regarding the sewage infrastructure on the site and claims that Senior Officers were made aware of the whole of the system infrastructure and were provided with large scale drawings of the Delta Lakes area describing the pipeline network. The former councillor went on to say that the layout of the system on the site prejudiced the project as planning legislation prevents building within many meters either side of any gravity sewage line, pumped sewage line or mains water pipe that transverse the land.
We have broken down the ARUP report to the following, however it should be pointed out that for clarity one would have to read the full report.
Extracts of the ARUP Geotechnical report Nov 2016:
An Envirocheck report obtained as part of a previous desk study listed a registered landfill site named Northumberland Hardcore Landfill to be present across the central area of Site 2.
The information presented within the Envirocheck report, as sourced from the Environment Agency, indicates the landfill received some 25,000 to 75,000 tonnes of waste per year between 1978 and 1986, generally comprising hardcore and rubble. Biodegradable wastes and putrescible wastes were prohibited at the landfill site.
Brickfield clay mill and Brickfield chemical works were previously located in the eastern and south eastern extremities of the site, beyond which Morfa iron foundry was present. Previous reports stated that there was some indication that land to the north of Morfa foundry was being used for the tipping of waste materials.
The Brickfield chemical works was leased to John Rosser and produced sulphuric acid and arsenic, subsequent to which Samuel Bowen took over the lease and the works produced copper sulphate, iron sulphate and sulphuric acid. Burry Tin Plate works was present to the south and south east of the site; east of which Machynys Brick works was present.
By 1907 South Wales Steel and Tin Plate Works had extended and largely occupied the central and western site area (and beyond). A total of 3No reservoirs were present in (1no.) and outside (2No.) the central and southern site area, to the east of which further industrial buildings had been constructed (on the site). Brickfield chemical works had been expanded. To the east of the works the clay pits appeared to have been infilled; potentially with wastes from the works units. The Brickfield chemical works burnt down in 1913. Reports indicated that acids were stored in lead tanks which were reported to have melted in the heat of the fire, and consequently running acid was reported. Large quantities of nitrate soda (an oxidising agent) were also reported on the premises. The chemical works was demolished after the fire and a locomotive repair shop was subsequently constructed in its footprint.
During WWII the borough of Llanelli recorded a low regional bombing density, however readily available records indicate that several bombs fell in close proximity to the site during a raid in July 1940. The Llanelli National Shell Factory (NSF) was located within Site 6 during WWII.
The County Council’s Response
We contacted Carmarthenshire County Council and asked: We have been provided with the ARUP reports regarding Delta Lakes and the proposed Wellbeing Centre. Having studied the plans we could see that there is a 16metre easement for a large sewer main running through the site and on the plans there are buildings proposed to be sited over this easement area. We have also read the list of risks in the report including the presence of asbestos, cyanide, possible unexploded ordinance, oils and hazardous chemicals and materials.
Could we ask if all of the councillors in the ward have been made fully award of the contents of this report and if the planning committee were also made fully aware of the report?
Yes all documents are public documents. Local members were formally consulted as part of this process. Planning committee members were all able to review documents including formal reposes made by statutory consultees.
Could we ask what you estimate the cost of cleaning up the site is going to be?
As a condition of planning a remediation strategy will need to be provided and agreed prior to the commencement of works. This strategy will need to evidence the removal of risks rather than the remove of every contaminant on site.
Could we ask what the cost of diverting the sewer if that is to be done would be and who would be footing the bill for that?
The masterplan drawing is illustrative only. Our desire is to not divert the sewer in question, however, should diversion be required we will discuss directly with Dwr Cymru prior to any agreement.
Could we ask again what the total cost to date is on the site and where that money has come from?
Please request this information through FOIA. This is consistent with our response to other requests for this information.
Finally could we ask if a full risk assessment has been conducted and if that has also been presented to the councillors, planning committee and the investors and developers?
A documented Risk Assessment for all development areas has been presented within the Arup report you reference.
The Politicians Response
Llanelli Online contacted the office of Nia Griffith MP and asked if she had read the ARUP report and if she had raised concerns regarding the contents we have highlighted n this article. We also asked if she had discussed the report with Llanelli Labour councillors. Nia Griffith MP said: “There has been considerable controversy over the Wellness Village development at Delta Lakes over the last few months. The suspension of Prof Marc Clement from Swansea University and the termination of an agreement with one of the County Council’s key development partners are very worrying. Whilst the Delta Lakes project has the potential to do much good for Llanelli, it needs an urgent and comprehensive review to ensure it is safe, well-planned and good value for money.
“Cllr Rob James and I wrote to the Welsh Government requesting a call of the planning application for the Wellness Village, and thankfully they responded by putting the any planning decisions on hold while they review it. Any irregularities on contamination and flooding will be considered by the Welsh Government, and we will keep a close eye on the project to make sure it is carried out properly, with careful oversight and the plans and funding in place to deal with any issues with the Delta Lakes site.”
We contacted Llanelli’s AM Lee Waters and asked if he had read the report and if he wished to comment. He said:
As I’m now the Welsh Government Minister responsible for the Swansea City Deal I’m no longer free to make public comments, but I’m certainly keeping a close eye on developments.
We contacted Rob James the leader of the Carmarthenshire Labour Group and asked if he and Llanelli councillors had read the ARUP report and if they had expressed their concerns at council meetings. Mr James said that he could not comment until the completion of a review.
We contacted the two Labour councillors for the area, Cllr John Prosser and Cllr Louvain Roberts and asked them if they had received the ARUP report and if they had raised concerns regarding the contents.