Agenda item

Walley's Quarry Health Implications - Update

Reports of the Director of Health and Care and UK Health Security Agency


Representatives from Staffordshire Public Health, the Environment Agency and UK Security Agency provided updates to highlight findings from four surveys that had been undertaken to measure odour and symptoms experienced by residents living close to Walley’s Quarry, and to report on the Health Risk Assessment of air quality monitoring and measures taken to reduce the off-site odours from the landfill site, since July’s meeting.


Committee considered the latest community figures from the surveys covering the period between 18 May 2021 and 13 October 2021. The residents self-reported odours and symptoms which indicated that that the air pollution continued to have a detrimental effect but that there had been an increase in the number of mental health symptoms reported due to the length of time residents were impacted by levels of Hydrogen Sulphate H2S.



The EA Project Executive provided a brief update on the strategy and plan to contain, capture and destroy H2S gas including the successful deployment of the posi-shell on 70% of the site. With the temporary capping in place to contain the gas, progress had also been made to drill 20 of the 28 wells and 50% more gas was being captured and destroyed as at same time last year.  The data showed a consistent reduction in H2S levels, that measures were having the impact expected and strong regulatory approach was being taken to encourage compliance by the operator.  There had been 2 face to face consultation events over consecutive weeks with 160-180 residents attending.


The UK Security Agency UKSA (the successor body to Public Health England) provided an update on the Health Risk Assessment of air quality monitoring results from March to August 2021.  The report detailed that the Hydrogen Sulphide H2S data up to the end of August showed continuing exposure to the population around the site at decreased concentration levels compared to March-July 2021 and at 3 of the monitoring sites they were  below the long-term (lifetime) health based guidance levels. 


The following comments and assurances were noted in response to Members questions:

  • Site MF9 had higher WHO annoyance levels than recommended. The impact of the odour on resident’s mental health and the uncertainty about safety and health of self and family should not be undermined even when the advice was that air pollution was unlikely to cause long-term physical health problems.
  • Assurance was given that there was no pollution in the water course coming from the landfill. Site monitors would stay in place and would continue to monitor water.
  • It was reported that gypsum had got into the landfill and had produced H2S. Work was ongoing to ensure no gypsum-based materials go into site. Checks were made by sampling and continuous monitoring, also EA was also looking at where the waste was coming from and if the waste, they were sending was suitable.
  • There were further concerns raised about a reduction in people’s mental health highlighted in the symptom tracker. Concern was raised about the impact on families and that there were no questions related to family breakdowns in the surveys.
  • Concerns were raised about impact on families in the future and it was suggested that The PH Consultant prepare a paper to share with Members to draw out the main messages from the Keele University study relating to mental health, the public health report and the community impact work being led by Newcastle under Lyme Borough Council.
  • MF9 there was no date for when levels site would be consistently below required level. The operator was working with EA to reduce levels and it was expected that H2S levels for September were expected to show a further decrease, however it was indicated that H2S may stay in the air longer in colder weather and no assurances could be given even though concentrations continue to reduce.
  • The Chairman suggested that the symptom tracker be recorded month by month to show a trend in residents reporting.


The Chairman thanked all presenters for contributions and clarity of reports. He welcomed the update on progress to reduce the impact of odour from WQ, that information on any other emissions had been shared and that the air pollution data indicated a decrease month on month.



1.   To note the update report and request a further update in 3 months.

2.   That further information relating to the impact on resident’s mental health in communities be circulated.


Supporting documents: