The health effects of the Parkwood Landfill site have been under investigation by the North Sheffield Primary Healthcare Trust for the past two years. Local residents had been complaining that the site was the cause of an increase in rates of cancer and wider ill-health.

However, the primary care trust’s report claims that the increase in cancer within the vicinity of the site could not be solely attributed to wastes from Parkwood. It said: “there is no one specific cause of death which explains this, but rather there is an increase in mortality from a number of causes [such as smoking, low levels of physical activity, poor housing, poor diet etc]. It is unlikely this could be a result of pollution from the landfill site.”

It added that the increased rate of mortality around the site is matched by other socio-economically deprived parts of Sheffield which are some way distant from the landfill.

Bob Armstrong, Regional Director for Viridor Waste Management, owners and operators of the site, said the firm had always been confident that landfill operations at Parkwood were safe and harmless.

“The site is, and always has been, operated within the legal environmental framework and this is getting tighter all the time. The PCT report also acknowledges that there have been improvements in the way that the site is run by Viridor,” he said.

Local residents, however, are furious. A spokesperson for Parkwood Landfill Concerned Residents Group told edie that the group were involved in legal action over this issue and that the health report wouldn’t make any difference.

He said that the Environment Agency had taken dust samples from local homes which had been shown to contain large amounts of lead, which the Agency had said was “more than likely” from the landfill. However, the Agency’s investigations and sampling was continuing so nothing could yet be proved, he said.

The only significant health problem that the PCT report found was that half of all people living within one kilometre of the site suffered nasal irritation.

Local councillor, Jackie Drayton has called on the PCT to conduct further research as, although nasal irritation may not sound serious, it is still an issue to be addressed.

Viridor has applied for permission to build two new treatment plants at the site – a gas utilisation and a leachate treatment plant – to which local residents are objecting. The Environment Agency has also written to Viridor to request details of all materials tipped at the site.

By David Hopkins

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