Landfill smell: EA to review enforcement strategy this week

The smell from the Biffa landfill is bad again today, two months after the recent problems started.

We continue to liaise with the Environment Agency, chasing them to resolve the problem as fast as possible, as do others including the local MPs.

The Environment Agency has taken the first stage of enforcement action against Biffa. They believe that the action plan agreed with Biffa is currently being met, although this week they will be reviewing the results of the work undertaken, and the improvements made against the number of complaints still being received. They will then review their enforcement strategy and whether they need to take further action.

It’s three weeks since the Agency last issued an official update, but we have continued to ask questions. Here are some of the replies, in italics.

Is there a maximum time to install gas capture after waste is placed?

“There are no time limits for installing gas collection, only that the gas should be collected prior to it being emitted to the atmosphere.  We intend to review future gas infrastructure emplacement with Biffa in the light of this unacceptable incident. We will be consulting with our National Colleagues to review other Biffa landfills where this may have been an issue.”

Clearly it has been wet recently. Is there an alternative method of working approved for Biffa when it is wet (eg to lay more hardcore and less putrescible waste)?  Is it possible to confirm how the method of working has varied recently and whether this was approved by yourselves?

“Daily operations and methods of waste placement are a matter for Biffa to manage to ensure permit conditions are complied with. However, as part of our review of this incident we have requested a report from Biffa in the first week of March to detail actions taken, lessons learnt, proposals for change in engineering in future cell development. We will be discussing this with Biffa as part of our incident review; technical discussion and enforcement strategy.”

In many places biopiles are required to be covered and to be of a maximum height. The ones in Redhill appear higher than permitted and the recommendation to sheet these is not applied or enforced. While not the main reason for landfill smells it does appear to contribute. Please can you confirm the result of recent inspections on whether this accords with your permit and if not if any enforcement action is proposed?

Having visited the Biogenic stockpiles during our investigations into this incident, we do not consider the current stockpiles are giving rise to the odour detected outside the site boundary either by ourselves or local residents. I did not consider the height of the stockpiles was excessive during recent visits; however, my colleague, Alice Payne will be reviewing the height and management of the stockpiles in accordance with the permit conditions in the near future.”

Just to reiterate, it really is important to report the smell to the EA whenever it’s bad – here’s that number again: 0800 807060.

For more information about the smell problem, read our earlier posts:

11 Feb update – with links to updates from the Environment Agency and Biffa

30 Jan post



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