Allegations that rat poison and other hazardous waste were illegally dumped at Walleys Quarry were made public during a parliamentary debate.
Newcastle MP Aaron Bell used parliamentary privilege to reveal details of alleged illegal waste activity at the Silverdale landfill as he led Westminster Hall’s debate on crime in the waste industry.
In December, the Environment Agency announced it had launched an investigation into alleged illegal waste activities at sites operated by Red Industries Limited – allegations the company strenuously denies.
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Mr Bell told the debate that Guardian journalist Rachel Salvidge tried to publish an article detailing the allegations relating to Walleys Quarry but was prevented from doing so after receiving legal threats from Red Industries.
But parliamentary privilege means that MPs are protected from legal action when they speak in Parliament.
Mr Bell was therefore able to read the article on Walleys Quarry which The Guardian was seeking to publish.
Ms Salvidge’s article mentions internal emails, leaked by a whistleblower, which discuss the dumping of hazardous waste, including arsenic, rat poison and zinc, at Walleys Quarry.
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According to the article, the emails “appear to show that hazardous materials are regularly dumped at Walleys to save the company money”.
Quoting the article, Mr Bell said: “In October 2019, Red’s compliance officer emailed colleagues about a shipment of cavity wax from an automaker: ‘Is this for an ATM or do we have another route in mind? This cavity wax is hazardous and organic, and should be shipped overseas to a company called ATM in Holland, which breaks it down into safer waste, but this process is expensive. In the emails, the group’s commercial manager Red responds “Walleys TFS”.
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“According to the whistleblower, this is an internal code for sending hazardous waste to Walleys which should be safely shipped overseas. As a result, the former senior executive said the Cavity wax had been secretly dumped at the landfill. Another email refers to ‘everyone’s favorite’ Walleys TFS route’ for cavity wax.”
“In July 2020, the Group Commercial Director emailed his colleagues about a shipment of spent bullet waste containing dangerous levels of arsenic and zinc. “What do you think of this shit show of a material – it looks like a wash and Walleys TFS to me” – again, says whistleblower, using internal code “Walleys TFS” to hijack hazardous waste to Walleys landfill.
“Another chainmail talks about a large shipment of rat poison. A Red employee asked, ‘Are you able to accept this to be landfilled, or would it not be suitable? Their manager replied, ‘Work your majik’, and the shipment was sent to Walleys landfill, the former senior executive said. Rodenticide is highly toxic as it can be fatal if swallowed, inhaled or s ‘it comes into contact with the skin’.
The article quotes a former Red employee who said they “used to take advantage of EA being stupid.”
Another allegation mentioned in the article concerned the spillage of hazardous paint at Walleys Quarry, which was mixed with cement to create a ‘horrible cocktail’.
He quotes an expert who says the “volatile organic compounds” in the paint can still cause respiratory problems if absorbed.
According to the article, a former senior Red Industries executive sent some of the emails to EA in May 2021, along with testimony about Red’s alleged breaches of law.
Walleys Quarry has been the subject of thousands of odor complaints from members of the public since 2020, due to hydrogen sulphide gas emissions.
The EA conducted air quality monitoring and enforcement actions at the landfill, including ordering the operator to cover part of the site.
But Mr Bell said the activities detailed in the leaked emails showed the agency had not held Red Industries accountable.
He said: “The Environment Agency is a fearless regulator who I cannot trust. that the operator’s license be suspended while the allegations are fully investigated.”