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Monsanto under investigation for ‘illegal dumping’

by SEAN POULTER

Last updated at 18:04 12 February 2007

 

Monsanto is under investigation amid allegations it sanctioned the dumping of toxic waste on sites across the country despite evidence that it would poison the landscape for generations.

The activities of the US chemical giant, best-known in the UK for its support of GM farming, are being examined by the government’s Environment Agency and public health bodies.

The focus of the investigation is a site in south Wales that has been called ‘one of the most contaminated’ in the country.

It appears that toxic chemicals were dumped in the Brofiscin quarry in the 1960s and 1970s despite the fact there was no licence for these materials and the site was not lined or sealed.

This meant a cocktail of highly poisonous chemicals has been able to escape into the environment and threatens to poison local streams and rivers.

The quarry, which is on the edge of the village of Groesfaen, near Cardiff, first erupted in 2003, spilling fumes over the surrounding area.

Since then surveys have found that 67 chemicals, including Agent Orange derivatives, dioxins and PCBs which could have been made only by Monsanto, are leaking from the site.

The Environment Agency says that if the dumping were to take place today there would be a criminal prosecution and civil action to raise the money needed to clean up the site.

However, it appears that much of the dumping was carried out during years when Britain’s regime for environmental protection was more lax.

Consequently, there are doubts as to how far any legal action can go or which companies should be liable for clean-up costs that are expected to run into tens of millions of pounds.

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: “Our overall aim is to understand the current risks to ground water and surface waters and to determine the most cost-effective way forward to protect the local environment and to recover costs from those liable.”

 

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