(NaturalNews) For a long time, the village of Groesfaen in the south of Wales, UK, was a desirable place to live. Quiet and untouched, yet located within short traveling distance of Wales' bustling capital city, Cardiff, Groesfaen had, by the turn of the twenty-first century, transformed from a nondescript hamlet into a small but prosperous hub of commuters - and with more housing estates being developed every year, its future seemed positive.
In 2003, however, the residents of Groesfaen began to complain about vile smells emanating from the Brofiscin quarry, a 36-meter deep quarry located at the edge of the village. More alarming still, the waters of the stream that flowed around the quarry began to turn vivid orange. Understandably concerned, the residents - including the quarry's owner, Barton Williams - urged the local Rhondda Cynon Taff council to investigate what was happening.
'Monsatan' strikes again
The investigation revealed that a Monsanto-owned plant in Newport (a city near Groesfaen) had paid contractors to illegally dump thousands of tons of cancer-causing chemicals - among them PCBs, dioxins and Agent Orange derivatives - into the Brofiscin quarry between 1965 and 1972. These chemicals, which had corroded their containers and were leaching into the soil, not only endangered the lives of the local villagers but also those of the more than 350,000 residents of Cardiff, since the chemicals were coming into contact with a major underground aquifer that was (and still is) destined to be the city's main water supply.
The residents of Groesfaen also discovered that the local council had been aware of the Brofiscin
issue for decades, yet ignored it: "The authorities have known about the situation for years, but have done nothing," admitted Douglas Gowan, a pollution consultant tasked with monitoring the quarry. "There is evidence of not only negligence and utter incompetence, but cover-up, and the problem has grown unchecked."
After 2003, the local authorities realized that the Brofiscin issue could no longer be kept quiet and eventually hired the Environment Agency - a government agency concerned with flooding and pollution - to clean-up the site in 2005. This decision proved to be controversial for two reasons: Firstly, the agency repeatedly failed to hold Monsanto
accountable for its role in the pollution (a role that Monsanto denied from the outset). Secondly, the agency consistently downplayed the dangers of the chemicals themselves, even claiming that they offered no "identifiable harm or immediate danger to human health" in their official report. This absurd belief clearly compromised their dedication to the clean-up effort, which Douglas Gowan has described as "inadequate."
A toxic future for Groesfaen
In 2011, Monsanto reluctantly agreed to help the Environment Agency clean-up the Brofiscin quarry when the latter discovered that many of the 67 chemicals detected on the site were exclusively manufactured by the former. Nonetheless, the clean-up effort remains underfunded and inefficient, and the Brofiscin quarry remains the most contaminated site in the United Kingdom.
"When we are dealing with PCBs or doxins you are dealing with chemicals that have extremely high toxicity at tiny levels so if you do not have adequate treatment you are not going to be successful," concluded Douglas Gowan. "[The Environment Agency's] solution only tackles run-off on the surface and not the real problem which is waste
buried underground getting through to the aquifer.
"[T]he council is of the opinion that the metal drums will continue to deteriorate over time releasing poisonous, noxious and polluting materials."Sources for this article include:http://www.theecologist.orghttp://www.theecologist.orghttp://www.theguardian.com/environment/2007/feb/12/uknews.pollution1http://www.dailymail.co.ukAbout the author:
Michael Ravensthorpe is an independent writer whose research interests include nutrition, alternative medicine, and bushcraft. He is the creator of the website, Spiritfoods
, through which he promotes the world's healthiest foods.