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Air Quality

Volume 405: debated on Tuesday 20 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will instruct the Environment Agency to take immediate steps to tackle the odour problems affecting Castle Point residents; what steps the Environment Agency is proposing to take; and how long she estimates it will take for her measures to be effective. [113791]

[holding answer 16 May 2003]: The odour problems affecting Castle Point residents have been recognised and discussed with the Environment Agency which is already taking steps to tackle the problem. Further action is being discussed with the site operator.Work to prevent the escape of landfill gas from one of the two sources of odour has already begun. A final layer of waste is being put over the affected area, which will be followed by a clay 'cap' to seal it. The Environment Agency has required that this odour source be abated within three months and it is expected that this will be completed within this time.

The second and most predominant source of odour has been treated with oxidising agents which eliminate the odour rapidly, but there has been difficulty in maintaining this and further efforts are being made to stabilise the source in an aerobic state. A number of additional measures are also being implemented.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what research has been conducted by the Environment Agency into the sources of the odour problems that have affected Castle Point residents in recent months. [113792]

[holding answer 16 May 2003]: Odours have been traced by the Environment Agency to two sources within the site. The first source is from an area of the landfill site from which landfill gas was escaping. The second is from a lagoon within the site. Research into the health effects of the landfill gas is currently being undertaken by the Environment Agency at the site. The research will look into any health impacts that may have been caused by the odours.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many complaints and inquiries the Environment Agency has received about had odours in South East Essex in the last three months. [113793]

[holding answer 16 May 2003]: The Environment Agency has recorded 562 complaints up to the end of 13 May. 396 of these have been since 20 April.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what long term measures she will take to remove the recurrent problem of bad odours for Castle Point residents; and if she will visit Castle Point to discuss the problem. [113794]

[holding answer 16 May 2003]: The Environment Agency has acted to ensure that more robust procedures are put in place to monitor for odours more actively at Pitsea landfill site. This will enable such odours to be detected and dealt with promptly. Planned activities which may potentially generate odours will be risk assessed to ensure that all measures are in place beforehand to minimise odour release.As the site nears the end of its operational life, more of it will be progressively capped and sealed, enabling landfill gas to be efficiently extracted and burned and for rainfall to be shed from the surface of the site without becoming contaminated.I am happy to discuss with the hon. Member or the Agency any further issues of concern if the local community remain anxious about the operation of the Pitsea landfill site.