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Phurnacite: Worst Toxic Waste left anywhere in the United Kingdom said Ann Clwyd

There has been a few letters in the local press recently about the land that once was occupied by the Phurnacite.
It would seem once again Plaid and Labour is contradicting each other on proposals about the former smokeless fuel plant that closed in 1990.
17 years have now past and the land is still contaminated with no sign of major improvements other than the removal of part of the Toxic legacy left for the residents of Abercwmboi.
The former WDA were responsible for improving the site at Abercwmboi but that quango was scrapped by the Welsh Assembly. As we now have Plaid and Labour governing Wales, why don’t they stop bitching to each other and do something about it.
As our Mp Ann Clwyd said back in 2003 “the residents of Abercwmboi have lived next to 28 acres of highly contaminated land—some of the worst toxic waste left anywhere in the United Kingdom. It is high time we saw action rather this snail's-pace progress, if it can be described as progress at all.”
Don’t forget the elections are in May

you would think that Ann Clwyd would stay in her own constituency and sort out the problems there especially in Abercwmboi sounds like they have a rather larger toxic problem than some of the places her and Dr. Kim Howells seem to be flying in out,

Ann Clwyd has received an excellent salary from the people in Cynon Valley for little return Kim Howells the local boy from Penywaun seems to have forgotten his roots but he good at shredding files.

Having been brought up and lived in Abercwmboi for a number of years I know about the pollution that was dumped in and around the Phurnacite Plant.

The workers and the people of Cynon Valley were unaware of the high levels of pollution that were being produced at Abercwmboi branded as the most polluting factory in Great Britain.

People of Cynon Valley were treated with contempt by the government then and now Labour has been in power for over 10 years so why do we still have a contaminated site in Cynon Valley.

Our politicians would rather waste millions in Cardiff Bay an example propping up the Millennium Centre with additional grants of 15 million pounds and throwing crumbs to the valleys.

http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/south-wales-news/cynon-valley/2007/1...

http://www.hughjames.com/personal/groupactions/workinducedcancerproductp...

I lived on Cwmbach side and remember as a kid having to walk to school with a scarf over my face because of the smell and the stinging of the eyes when i say this people tell me no I must be wrong it was a peasouper smog but I know what I know and it was no fog but the Phurnicite pollution. Bet your all glad its gone but not the flaming toxic ground it left behind these people should be made to pay for the clear up and it is the likes of Ann CLwyd and Kim Howells should be shouting from the roof tops of London.

Who told ann clwyd about the phurny', she's never here! I supose if we renamed it ABU-CWMB0I, and had a few camels roaming about,she'd show a bit off interest.I can see it now, the leader reporting :- "Ann of Arabia visits the Tuareg village of Abu-cwmboi" With a photo' of her sitting astride a humpy back,known localy as a "Ceffyl Crwmp", which has emblazoned on its backside "CAMEL CABS Ltd. Abu-cwmboi" LMBO!!

Perhaps the people of Abercwmboi should seek advice privately especially as far as their health is concerned.

Polluted grounds are bad news anywhere and it's not for years after their removal health problems (very serious health problems) in the community start to show up.

It may be prudent to seek information through a class action, with an approach to the assembly now, Not Tomorrow but NOW.

If your M.P. don't want to know, get rid of Him /Her.

Cymro

I remember belonging the Aberdare Athletic Club and running past that hell founded plant. The grit, stench and lung clogging smoke is as real to me today as it was many years ago. Having said that I have cycled over and photographed on the land many times since its eventual demise and no harm has come to me. Lets remember, this quote came from a politician so just have much credence can it actually be given?

I have recently moved to Abercwmboi and was under the impression that the contaminated waste had been removed in 2005. I know that the ground is still closed off but surely this is just a precaution as it is dangerous and there used to be waste there. Apart from the waste that was left there surely the majority of the pollution was air bourne smoke which is now no more. I do think that the local goverment/council owes it to Abercwmboi, Mountain Ash, Fernhill and Cwmbach to do somthing with the land even if it is just to plant some trees ! Things are starting to grow back there so it cant be too bad anymore.

“In the case of the Aberaman Phurnacite land, nearly 10 years were lost between the closure of the site and the planning appeal being dropped. It has taken the dialogue process just over a year to reach some long lasting decisions. It would be fair to say that the process could have been quicker had it not been for the mistrust, misinformation and deep seated positions the various parties had developed over the long period between closure of the site and the dialogue.”

http://www.ids-environment.com/Common/Paper/Paper_58/marock%20dialogue.htm

Hi Jos, has all the contamination on the land been cleaned up who knows can we believe our politicians they have deceived us before.

There is talk of building houses on the site, who would want to live in a house on a site where that amount of contamination was produced and stored.

A few hundred meters away from the old Phurnacite is the proposed site for the new hospital, yet another example of mismanagement by the authority. A new facility built on a derelict landfill site (Mountain Ash Councils old refuse tip) next to the river Cynon in a valley bottom, a recipe for disaster with global warming and increasing rainfall expressed it would seem on every news bulletin.

The powers that be need to do their homework on this one.

Building on a flood plain is crazy and building a hospital in that area is asking for trouble ,just imagine the amount of concrete footings that will have to be laid down for that where oh where will all the water go.

That is one of the problems with a lot of the flooding in the country at the moment too many houses and industrial estates built on flood plain .
Will they never learn from their mistakes ??
Don't think I would like to buy a house built on that phurnacite land ,best if is cleared of all the debris and any contaminated stuff and let it naturally revert back to nature.

i travel on that road quite a few times going to the A470, and some days there is a really awful smell around that area.
not too sure if it is to do with the old workings and pollution there, but my goodness does it stink.

the new hospital, which i see has now been started, is bound to have problems. As has been said it is going to flood in years to come.....there will be toxic water and mud seeping into foundations. it will be like a horror movie.

i agree something should be done with the ground, but housing, hospital....nah....were is there intelligence?

Hi all, I’m a university student currently doing a project on the Phurnacite plant. There are two of us assessing the site; I am looking at the water pollution to the River Cynon caused by the plant also the level of pollution in the small ponds and the large lake. I have completed heavy metal and sulphate analysis of my water samples.

Is there anyone who knows specifically what processes occurred there that would account for high Barium and Zinc concentrations? I am also finding it difficult to find out the location of the two waste tips which were removed in 2005.

My colleague is looking at soil contamination at the site, once we have both finished we will inform the necessary authorities of any pollutants above an acceptable level. However on Preliminary findings contamination is lower than I expected on the site thus I feel “most contaminated site in Britain” is a bit of an overstatement, although perhaps was true when the plant was operational.

Any help would be much appreciated, Thanks

Hi William

There must be a great deal of contamination in Abercwmboi to spend £12.3 million pounds and the job is not completed.

As for the tips, one place where hazardous waste was dumped was at the rear of Bronallt Terrace less than 100m away, there was a place there called the basin a pool sounded by mature trees where local boys used to swim before the NCB the Phurnacite plant started to contaminate the site by dumping allsorts into the large hole. The basin was to the right on the photograph I have linked below.

http://www.francisfrith.com/search/wales/mid+glamorgan/abercwmboi/abercw...

The area in the photograph to the right was later used to stockpile Phurnacite eggs as they were called. The lake in the photo was fed by water pumped from Abercwmboi and Aberaman Colliery. I can remember as a child waking up one morning to find a 2FT ring of silver around that lake thousands of dead fish, eels and fresh water mussels Phurnacite Pollution had killed everything.

Another thing that the NCB used to do was to dump thousands of tons from what was called an ammonia plant. Lagoons were made out of the colliery waste and the liquid was pumped in and allowed to sink into the slag tips that dominated Abercwmboi at the time. The lagoons were sited about 100m from the car component factory at Abercwmboi a factory that has been constructed on reclaimed land as the Royal Opera House warehouse.

Over 50 years of pollution in Abercwmboi so the rest of the country could have clean air, the authorities have had one go at cleaning up that pollution.

http://webapps.rhondda-cynon-taff.gov.uk/heritagetrail/cynon/abercwmboi/...

The basin was just to the rear of the white shed in the above link.

Hi William
Glad to see someone is looking into this in a scientific manor, because there seems to be so many different opinions on weather this was cleaned up properly. You may want to speak to this company because they did the clean up and may help you identify which area were contaminated http://www.vhe.co.uk/projects/abercwmboi.htm.
I will also ask my mate as he live on John Street whilst the did the clean up. Will be interested to her your findings, Keep us up to date !

That photo brought back a lot of memoreys, we were always told to stay away from those ponds, my father worked for a time in the Phurney plant but had to finish and go back to the pits as what ever it was he was doing caused him to nearly go blind I remember him coming home from work and could hardly see, it has stayed with me watching my mother bathing my fathers eyes and the pain was so great he cried, the Dr said that the amonia had got in his eyes and he had been very lucky cannot tell you what the amonia was used for but can remember that incident.

Just another thought. I'm told that all the underground workings and water in the area used to be pumped out. However, pumping no longer takes place as everything has been capped. Various engineers are of the opinion that eventually all this water could erput. But not to worry the Environment Agency etc tell us all it's safe!! Strange really because it was not until the last minute that they changed their ideas about this site and their own previous classification that it was C2 land - a flood plain.

Hi everyone I have just finished the report write up, I now need to compare my surface water and river Cynon results with the soil analysis.
I will hopefully have this finished by next week, if any of you want a copy of the report just email me at Johnlittlelondon@aol.com. The file will be too large to send entirely by Email so I will have to send it in sections.

Cheers

An old photograph of the rear of Parkview Terrace Abercwmboi, how things have changed.

http://archive.rhondda-cynon-taf.gov.uk/treorchy/image.php?i=24738&r=2&t...

The lagoons that were made out of the colliery waste and where the liquid waste was pumped and allowed to sink into the slag tips that dominated Abercwmboi at the time were just at the base of the large tip in the photograph.

There must be an election due, Labour has been in power for years but nothing is done in Cynon valley.
20 years on and still Abercwmboi suffers under Labour rule, the site of the former Phurnacite plant, and contain a lot of toxic waste says our MP Ann Clwyd

Vote Labour in May and have another 20 years of bullshit you know it makes sense.

27 February 2008 TheyWorkForYou.com

Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley, Labour) Link to this | Hansard source

First, may I warmly welcome my right hon. Friend to his rightful place on the Front Bench? [Hon. Members: "Hear, hear."] I am grateful to him for that answer. As he knows, unemployment has been cut by half in the Cynon valley, but 88 acres of prime land in the centre of the valley were the site of the former Phurnacite plant, and contain a lot of toxic waste. Nearly 20 years after the closure of the plant, the development remains unfinished. When can the people of Abercwmboi expect that eyesore to disappear?
Add your comment

Paul Murphy (Secretary of State, Wales Office) Link to this | Hansard source

I thank my right hon. Friend for her kind words. She will recall that I answered a question from her on this subject eight or nine years ago. I hope that my answer is a little different this time. I have met the Assembly Deputy First Minister to discuss this issue, and I know that my right hon. Friend has also talked to the Deputy First Minister. There is a strong case for development on that site, and I hope that we can get some progress in Abercwmboi. It is very important to develop what used to be called brownfield sites. In the north of our valleys, and certainly in the Cynon valley, there is a great need to provide employment opportunities, and I hope that we will achieve some success in that.

http://www.theyworkforyou.com/search/?s=Phurnacite&pid=10120

http://icwales.icnetwork.co.uk/news/south-wales-news/cynon-valley/2008/0...

I think in 1996 Ann Clwyd kept blaming the conservative government for not cleaning up the former Phurnicite land.
Who can she blame now labour has been in power for years but the Phurnicite land remains the same contaminated.

"Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Ainger) on his informative and frightening account of the Sea Empress disaster. I know how intimately involved he was throughout, and I am surprised that he managed to hold back his anger so successfully when he must have felt absolutely frustrated by not being able to influence events. As I once represented that part of Wales in the European Parliament, I know the extent of the tragedy. We all sympathise and hope that the clean-up will be extremely fast so that the tourist industry is not unduly affected. I support my hon. Friend's call for an independent inquiry,

29 Feb 1996 : Column 1088
which is absolutely essential. If the Government do not grant such an inquiry, we can only assume that they have something to hide.

I want to talk about the former phurnacite plant in my constituency, which closed in 1990. The site became derelict in 1992. There are some 88 acres of derelict land on which there are around 100,000 tonnes of highly toxic material.

After the plant closed, I thought--as did everyone else who lived in the vicinity--that British Coal, which still had ownership of the land, would properly look after its safety until it was reclaimed. However, during the summer some of my constituents told me about their concerns and I walked over the site with them and saw the skulls of animals and the carcases of birds, hedgehogs and sheep that were stuck in the soft, sticky tar. Children and dogs had played on another part of the site, and the children had fallen ill with sores, ulcers and blisters.

The site was not properly cordoned off, there were no signs saying "danger" and there was no proper fence to keep children and animals away. Some parents are now seeking compensation for the skin difficulties suffered by their children who played on the site. The dumps contain mercury, asbestos, phenols, ammonia, hydrocarbons and gas, which are all mixed up with tar. In summer, it bubbles out of the ground. The site was open for people to walk over. It is incredible that British Coal did not make sure that the site was secure until it was properly reclaimed.

I have had quite a lot of correspondence with the Welsh Office on this issue. One of the first questions I asked was whether there was a register of contaminated land in my constituency. I was told that the only register went up to 1988 and that there was no record of any sites that were in use in 1988 that may be contaminated now. That is a defect on their part. The Welsh Office, which has responsibility for making money available to the Welsh Development Agency for the reclamation of land, should have an up-to-date register of all contaminated land in Wales. It is not good enough for the Welsh Office to say that it is the responsibility of the local authorities--it is its responsibility to have an overall view of the need for the correct amount of money to deal with that contaminated land.

I pay tribute to the Abercwmboi carers, who set up an action committee. In May, the Welsh Development Agency presented a plan to them, which was to encapsulate the waste, not to move it away. The encapsulation would have lasted 30 years at the most. A part solution was being offered, not a long-term solution. The carers, the people who lived in the area, were not content with that.

The phurnacite plant was closed because of pollution--the inspectorate said that it could not continue. It was one of the worst, if not the worst, industrial polluters in Britain. It is ironic that the people who were put out of work because of the closure of the plant--everyone was glad to see the plant close, except for those who were employed by it--were left with toxic waste on their doorsteps. There was no improvement to the environment.

The carers were not happy with the solution from the Welsh Development Agency, so they pushed for an environmental impact assessment. Such an assessment should have taken place as a matter of course. Were it not

29 Feb 1996 : Column 1089
for public opposition to the proposals of the WDA, that environmental impact assessment would not have taken place.

The Cynon Valley local authority held a press conference today at which it presented the independent report that was compiled by consultants. We now have two conflicting views. The council commissioned a firm of environmental experts, Richards, Moorhead and Laing, to prepare an independent report. It was asked to assess the current environmental implications of the site and the likely impact of the proposed encapsulation scheme on the surrounding communities, both during the implementation and in the longer term. The consultants' findings show that further on-site investigations are essential before any reclamation can take place. The consultants' report states:

"The amount of investigation carried out to date has not been sufficient to accurately define the volume of contaminated materials on site".

That leads them to believe that the capacity of the proposed depository will be insufficient to contain all the waste present. In addition, the consultants cast doubt on the long-term viability of the cell within which the WDA is hoping to encapsulate the waste.

The WDA and its environmental impact report suggest one course of action and the council's independent consultants propose another. I am sure that I do not need to remind hon. Members that the industrial areas of south Wales have been left with the legacy of an unknown toxic waste cocktail. The council's consultants believe also that a proper assessment has not been made of that toxic waste content.

The Secretary of State said at the outset that the polluter should pay. I wonder how that affects British Coal, as it is the owner of the site, although the WDA wishes to acquire it. If the polluter should pay, British Coal should pay in that instance. At the very least, the proper safety precautions should have been taken when the site was abandoned, and the fact that they were not represents a clear dereliction of duty on the part of a number of authorities. Local people should now receive full information about the site so that the best possible options for them and for the environment can be discussed and decided.

That is why I believe that a full planning inquiry, with an inspector, should take place. It would establish principles which would apply to other areas contaminated by industrial waste in Wales--we should not have to repeat the same process time after time. I hope that the Secretary of State will support my call"

www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm199596/cmhansrd/vo960229/debtext/602... - 23k

Do you get the feeling no one in Cardiff bay is interested in Cynon Valley?
Just spew out the same bullshit time after time.
6th March 2007
“Christine Chapman : Thank you, First Minister. In my constituency, there are some clear signs of regeneration. You have already mentioned the new community hospital, which has been greatly welcomed in my constituency. I also want to mention the clean-up of the Phurnacite land in Abercwmboi, which has been a blight on our community for many years. All these are tangible achievements undertaken by There is some progress, but we must not be complacent. Therefore, what assurances can you give, First Minister, that the Welsh Assembly Government will continue to work to attract high-valued and high-skilled jobs to the area, which will bring about a definite sea change?
The First Minister : You are right to point out the clean-up of the Phurnacite plant, because that had been an eyesore for about 15 years, until work started recently. It is one of a list of achievements—Brymbo is another one of a similar character, dating back to the early 1990s. The Assembly Labour administration was able to get to grips with problems that had defeated previous administrations, and I am very proud of our record on that. The consequences of removing the Phurnacite spoil and creating a major community resource there, including a business park and housing,”

On Tuesday, 8 July 2008 Christine Chapman said in the assembly
“My constituency has some prime sites that are crying out for development and regeneration, but in a sustainable way. Two examples that come to mind are the Phurnacite plant in Abercwmboi and the Lady Windsor site in Ynysybwl. I ask that the Welsh Assembly Government gives priority to these sites. I pay tribute to the Labour Cabinet members, particularly the First Minister and Andrew Davies, who have worked tirelessly to remove the waste from the Phurnacite plant. I am now looking to the next stage to see this important site redeveloped.”

October 15 2008 Christine Chapman said in the assembly
“Christine Chapman AM has once again called for a progress report on regeneration plans for both the Phurnacite land in Abercwmboi and the Lady Windsor site in Ynysybwl. (October 15 2008)
Speaking during a statement from the Deputy Minister for Regeneration, the Cynon Valley AM spoke of the frustrations that people in Cynon Valley have regarding these two prime regeneration projects.

“On the Phurnacite land, you will be aware that contaminants were cleared from the site a few years ago — I pay tribute to Andrew Davies on this work because, he was instrumental in ensuring that the site was cleared. This was welcomed by the local community, and it went some way towards alleviating fears surrounding the safety of the land. However, progress needs to be made in terms of the after use of the site.

“The Lady Windsor site in Ynysybwl, which is also ripe for regeneration, is not part of a Communities First area, but there is, nevertheless, a lot of good work and commitment being shown in the area. Plans and discussions for this particular site have been ongoing for many years; I was involved in this work as a local councillor, so it has been ongoing for at least 14 years. Something should happen on that site.”

The AM asked the Minister for his assurances that he would work with the local authority and other agencies to ensure that these plans become a reality, as constituents want to see some action on these important sites.

The Deputy Minister replied saying that he had met with the leader, the director of regeneration and the Cabinet member for economic development and housing of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council recently to discuss a number of these issues, and that he would provide a written update on both sites.

“We will be looking to the local authority’s local development plan, which it is currently developing, to give a sense of further prioritisation, so that we can make sensible decisions as we move forward.”

Perhaps in another 20 years if you are lucky.
Keep voting Labour you know it makes sense

Development held up by flood risks
Nov 6 2008 by Gary Marsh, Cynon Valley Leader

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/south-wales-news/cynon-valley/2008/11/...

England's Coalfield regeneration is a success story, but report warns that social legacy of pit closures still lingers

England's coalfields are a success story of physical renewal and economic growth, and local authorities deserve much of the credit, the Audit Commission concludes in a review of ten years of regeneration in areas afflicted by pit closures.

But in its national report 'A Mine of Opportunities' released today the spending watchdog says that, despite the progress made on greening mineworkings, building new homes, roads and commercial sites, and creating jobs, some people have been left behind. Councils in the coalfields must gear up to support residents by addressing endemic problems of bad health, poor school results, poor motivation and low skills. Some councils are tackling these issues but the rest need to follow suit.

The study suggests the coalfields experience offers lessons to local authorities in other parts of the country as unemployment grows and companies lay off staff. They need to act quickly to stop people falling into reliance on benefits.

The Audit Commission says that the job of regenerating the coalfields is not complete. For all that has been achieved, they remain among the most deprived districts in England. National support for regeneration in the coalfields is still needed, particularly in addressing health, education and skills and other barriers to full participation by local people in the labour market.

'Substantial improvements have occurred in the coalfields through a combination of national and local actions - regeneration works. But there is still more to do and local councils and their partners need to prepare for a new phase of regeneration,'

the Chairman of the Audit Commission Michael O'Higgins said.

'While continued national funding is important, the remaining problems in the coalfields around education, health and low employment expectations will require innovative actions by councils and their partners. It is only by connecting the full range of services provided by local organisations that the complex and deep-seated social problems facing these areas can be tackled.'

The report makes recommendations to help communities in economic distress facing economic decline:

* Act quickly when unemployment strikes. If a major industry sheds jobs local, regional and central government need to act quickly to help, to stop joblessness becoming a long term social problem.
* Link jobs and people. Councils should not see job creation as an end in itself. A balance needs to be struck between securing employment opportunities and ensuring that local residents are sufficiently healthy, skilled and motivated to take them up.
* Work with your neighbours. Councils should not be fixated on creating jobs within their own boundaries. Local economies run across council boundaries and many people travel outside their local authority area for work. Councils should recognise that cooperating with neighbours for job growth may bring the best results.
* Work with your partners. By cooperating local authorities and service providers can share facilities, employment possibilities and funding.
* Involve your residents. Local people usually know best what will work for them.

Notes:

* The amount of derelict land in the coalfields has more than halved between 1993 and 2004 (from 7,300 hectares to 3,300 hectares).
* Between 1998 and 2006 commercial floorspace per capita grew 80 per cent faster in the coalfields than nationally.
* The demolition rate of unfit housing in the coalfields from 1998 to 2006 has been twice the national rate.
* The completion of new houses has taken place at nearly 10 percent faster in the coalfields than nationally from 1999 to 2007.
* From 1998 to 2006 job growth in the coalfields (10.7 per cent) has outstripped the national rate (7.6 per cent).
* In 2006 12.1 per cent of the coalfield's working age population was on Job Seekers Allowance or Incapacity Benefit. The national rate was 9.3 per cent, while it was 6.4 per cent in the South East region.
* Life expectancy for both men and women in the coalfields in 2005 was below the national rate and this gap had widened slightly since 1998.

Among the case studies in this report are:

Recreating Ashfield - After the last colliery closed in the mid-1990s, alongside job creation the council adopted a strategy of environmental and housing improvement to attract commuters from a growing Nottingham and to bring new wealth into the area. Data comparing Ashfield with its seven immediate coalfield neighbours shows that these objectives have been achieved. It has developed a distinct profile relative to its neighbours based on rapid improvement in the housing stock, strong population growth, a significant increase in outward commuting and a marked improvement in deprivation levels.

Barnsley and Rotherham - cooperating for growth - Barnsley and Rotherham are South Yorkshire neighbours that faced substantial economic challenges in the mid-1990s. Together with Doncaster they formed the Dearne Valley Partnership to regenerate an area spanning the borders of the three authorities and containing a large number of pit villages. This transformed it from a major area of dereliction into a substantial employment site. The bulk of the new employment was located in Rotherham but residents in all three districts have shared in these opportunities due to the construction of new cross-border transport links. The decision to think sub-regionally and form this cross-border partnership allowed for a stronger message to be sent to government, and for greater resources to be directed on a more substantial local growth programme. A series of three separate schemes led by each district may well have delivered less.

South Tyneside - understanding your area - In the late 1990s South Tyneside council realised it would be difficult to meet its residents' job needs within the authority's boundaries due to a lack of available employment land. Many major employment sites were being developed on the urban fringes of the Tyneside conurbation, so the council's responses was to help people to access these new jobs by improving public transport - new routes to employment sites, extra bus services from the most deprived wards to the ferry port at South Shields, subsidised travel costs for people taking up work, and a new metro station strengthening connections with Gateshead and Newcastle. Despite losing nearly 3000 jobs in the period 1998 to 2006 South Tyneside grew its working-age population by nearly 2 per cent, while nearby Gateshead and Sunderland, both of which experienced jobs growth, saw falls in working-age population.
Notes to editors

1. The Audit Commission is an independent watchdog, driving economy, efficiency and effectiveness in local public services to deliver better outcomes for everyone.
2. Our work across local government, health, housing, community safety and fire and rescue services means that we have a unique perspective. We promote value for money for taxpayers, auditing the GBP 200 billion spent by 11,000 local public bodies.
3. As a force for improvement, we work in partnership to assess local public services and make practical recommendations for promoting a better quality of life for local people.
4. Further details about the role of the Audit Commission can be obtained from www.audit-commission.gov.uk

http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/reports/PRESS-RELEASE.asp?CategoryID=...

A lot of former workers in the Phurny died of some very strange illnesses, cancers mostly, and my own father was among them. I know it's a very difficult thing to prove, but there were statistically too many deaths to be coincidence. It's a bit like leukaemia in children: that too seems to occur in pockets in some parts of the country. Again, possibly sited too close to nuclear power plants.

A similar thing occured too in the Rhondda around the Nant Gwyddon tip, where too many children were born with birth defects to be just down to coincidence, as well as the strange illnesses suffered by those living too close to the site.

Now of course, the tip is closed down, but the waste that would have gone there ends up in Bryn Pica, and that too has its problems of the stench of hydrogen sulphide gas creeping across the ground over to Abernant, especially on very cold days and nights. I can vouch for this from personal experience because it's a major problem for us.

The Phurnacite plant was opened before the last world war, and was designed to use the coal from Cwmaman pit because of its high quality. However, when that pit closed down, the coal then came from anywhere they could get it, and that's when the problem of filth and dirt in lower Cynon Valley began.

There was nothing wrong with the plant's design that caused so much smoke and flame that it made it look like Dante's Inferno. It was the neglect and indifference to the people shown by the former NCB that was the cause of all the problems, together with a contempt that said to us that you either have that or you have no jobs at all.

I saw a similar, but even worse, scenario in Ukraine when I passed by train a huge steel plant in Donetsk in 1991. That hellhole looked like twenty Phurnacite plants all rolled into one, and if you think the yellow smoke from the Phurny was bad enough, then that plant in Ukraine was so bad that people living in towns around it slept with wet towels over their faces, otherwise they would wake up the following day with their skins burning with the sulphur in the air.

We're all glad that the plant has gone, and the valley looks so much better for it, but the only question left now is: What legacy of insidious poison has it left us, and what will be its long term effects?

09 by Our Correspondent, Cynon Valley Leader

CYNON Valley AM Christine Chapman is calling for a progress report on the regeneration plans for the former Phurnacite Plant land at Abercwmboi.

Addressing the Assembly, she spoke of the frustrations that people in Cynon Valley have regarding the prime regeneration project.

“Contaminants were cleared from the Phurnacite site a few years ago, and this was welcomed by the local community,” she said.

“It went some way towards alleviating fears surrounding the safety of the land.

“However, progress needs to be made in terms of the after-use of the site.”

Hi, I'm hoping for some help on obtaining a copy of a BBC documentary on the health risks of the Phurnacite Plant in Abercwmboi. It was aired several years ago.
I currently work in the coke industry in Australia.
Several years ago Union reps from Wales visited our union with a video copy of the documentary and warned us of the dangers of the coal carbonisation process that was used at our works. This video was given to our union rep who after viewing it passed it on to the manager who then refused to return it to the workers on the plant. The union rep who gave him the video was subsequently put on staff and is now a supervisor.
With many of the current and retired workers either dying or in poor health I was hoping someone on this forum can help me obtaining a copy. Thankyou

All we have to go on in the connection between the Phurnacite plant and cancers is a statistical correlation. We cannot prove any direct link other than the fact that an unusual number of men died of various cancers and other strange illnesses, my own father among them, after having worked there for long periods.

I wasn't aware that the site was still contaminated. I too thought that the waste had been carted away some years ago and was now safe. But then, I don't trust any politicians either, especially the specimens we've landed ourselves with in RCT, and as for Baghdad Annie's input; no doubt she'll show up in the next month or two with an election due, if she doesn't finally decide to quit politics altogether.

If so there'll be another parachute job on the way, with another Labour hopeful sure of a seat in that house of ill-repute in Westminster.

I don't know of the existence of any video dealing with the Phurnacite's contamination, but if a similar plant is operating in Australia then those working in and living around it need to be very vigilant. Having said that, the original design of the Phurnacite was based on coal extracted from Cwmaman pit, which was very clean burning and gave off very little pollution.

The crunch came later when that coal was exhausted and new sources had to be found that were dirtier and not suited to the Phurnacite process. That's the reason why so much filth ended up in the air in Cynon Valley, and in the lungs of the population. If the correct coal had been used then those problems would have been significantly diminished.

Of course, the narrow valley and low chimneys didn't help to disperse the filth either, and we were told by the then NCB that you either had that or no jobs. Hence the blackmail foisted upon the people of Cynon Valley, and the lower end especially, which was particularly affected; pegging clothes out on the line that hours later were covered in black granules containing God knows what chemical nasties.

They told us that the sulphurous smoke was not injurious to health! Unfortunately, they never told that to the trees in Duffryn woods, because they were all dead and black! The only place I ever saw worse conditions as that was in 1991 on a visit to Russia and Ukraine, where I saw a massive steel works in the Donetsk basin that pumped out a similar sulphurous smoke. The people of that area used to sleep at night with wet towels over their faces, otherwise they'd wake up the next day with their skins burning with the sulphur. Dante's Inferno indeed!

We are now left with the legacy of that industrial blackmail, and I've not heard of anyone receiving any compensation for the ills caused. If I'm wrong I'd like to know.

I notice too that there are now similar concerns being voiced about a waste disposal plant being built on the Rhigos industrial estate. The same old assurances are also being given that all will be well and not to panic. It's the jobs issue again, in the light of which how can we be sure that this company too will not be as lax and arrogant as the old NCB?

When the filth starts flying around again, and strange illnesses are reported, with possible birth defects as happens in other parts of the world where people are desperate for employment, will we be told once again to put up or shut up? On past form I'm not too optimistic.

I am still having a problem finding a copy of the documentary on the Phurnacite plant at Abercwmboi. The documentary aired on the BBC program 'WEEK IN, WEEK OUT' on 30th April 1996. I am hoping that someone that was affected by the plant would still have a copy of the documentary and would be willing to send me a copy of it. I would pay any costs incurred. With the help of this video I hope to expose the risks that workers were exposed to at the coke works that I had worked at for decades. We were offered no protection whatsoever and in fact were only given paper dust masks for the noxious and toxic fumes. Many retired workers have died and many are very ill. Any help would be greatly appreciated. My email is sinofam@msn.com if anyone wishes to contact me privately. Thank you all for your time.

Finally have a copy. Thank you all for your kind emails and support.

I see our MP has had one of her 4 yearly debate with regard to the Phurnacite land.

“to raise her concern about the length of time it has taken to free up the land in Abercwmboi for development.”

You may know what is going to happen by the end of the year.

Joke

http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/south-wales-news/cynon-valley/2010/07/...

High court trial date set for Phurnacite factory claims
Madeleine Brindley, Health Editor
Jul 28 2011
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HUNDREDS of people who claim they developed cancer and lung diseases after working at “Europe’s dirtiest factory” will have their cases heard in court.

The trial to determine whether the 400 workers’ health problems were caused by conditions at the Phurnacite plant in Abercwmboi is due to begin at the High Court in Cardiff on October 17.

The trial is due to last six weeks and will be adjourned to the Royal Courts of Justice in London where defendants, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change and Coal Products Ltd, will give evidence.

David Jones, 76, from Aberdare, worked at the Phurnacite plant for 20 years. He believes the work caused his breathing problems, kidney cancer and the cancerous growths on his face.

Read More http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2011/07/28/high-court-trial...

Mrs. Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley): I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Pembroke (Mr. Ainger) on his informative and frightening account of the Sea Empress disaster. I know how intimately involved he was throughout, and I am surprised that he managed to hold back his anger so successfully when he must have felt absolutely frustrated by not being able to influence events. As I once represented that part of Wales in the European Parliament, I know the extent of the tragedy. We all sympathise and hope that the clean-up will be extremely fast so that the tourist industry is not unduly affected. I support my hon. Friend's call for an independent inquiry,

29 Feb 1996 : Column 1088

which is absolutely essential. If the Government do not grant such an inquiry, we can only assume that they have something to hide.

I want to talk about the former phurnacite plant in my constituency, which closed in 1990. The site became derelict in 1992. There are some 88 acres of derelict land on which there are around 100,000 tonnes of highly toxic material.

After the plant closed, I thought--as did everyone else who lived in the vicinity--that British Coal, which still had ownership of the land, would properly look after its safety until it was reclaimed. However, during the summer some of my constituents told me about their concerns and I walked over the site with them and saw the skulls of animals and the carcases of birds, hedgehogs and sheep that were stuck in the soft, sticky tar. Children and dogs had played on another part of the site, and the children had fallen ill with sores, ulcers and blisters.

The site was not properly cordoned off, there were no signs saying "danger" and there was no proper fence to keep children and animals away. Some parents are now seeking compensation for the skin difficulties suffered by their children who played on the site. The dumps contain mercury, asbestos, phenols, ammonia, hydrocarbons and gas, which are all mixed up with tar. In summer, it bubbles out of the ground. The site was open for people to walk over. It is incredible that British Coal did not make sure that the site was secure until it was properly reclaimed.

I have had quite a lot of correspondence with the Welsh Office on this issue. One of the first questions I asked was whether there was a register of contaminated land in my constituency. I was told that the only register went up to 1988 and that there was no record of any sites that were in use in 1988 that may be contaminated now. That is a defect on their part. The Welsh Office, which has responsibility for making money available to the Welsh Development Agency for the reclamation of land, should have an up-to-date register of all contaminated land in Wales. It is not good enough for the Welsh Office to say that it is the responsibility of the local authorities--it is its responsibility to have an overall view of the need for the correct amount of money to deal with that contaminated land.

I pay tribute to the Abercwmboi carers, who set up an action committee. In May, the Welsh Development Agency presented a plan to them, which was to encapsulate the waste, not to move it away. The encapsulation would have lasted 30 years at the most. A part solution was being offered, not a long-term solution. The carers, the people who lived in the area, were not content with that.

The phurnacite plant was closed because of pollution--the inspectorate said that it could not continue. It was one of the worst, if not the worst, industrial polluters in Britain. It is ironic that the people who were put out of work because of the closure of the plant--everyone was glad to see the plant close, except for those who were employed by it--were left with toxic waste on their doorsteps. There was no improvement to the environment.

The carers were not happy with the solution from the Welsh Development Agency, so they pushed for an environmental impact assessment. Such an assessment should have taken place as a matter of course. Were it not

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for public opposition to the proposals of the WDA, that environmental impact assessment would not have taken place.

The Cynon Valley local authority held a press conference today at which it presented the independent report that was compiled by consultants. We now have two conflicting views. The council commissioned a firm of environmental experts, Richards, Moorhead and Laing, to prepare an independent report. It was asked to assess the current environmental implications of the site and the likely impact of the proposed encapsulation scheme on the surrounding communities, both during the implementation and in the longer term. The consultants' findings show that further on-site investigations are essential before any reclamation can take place. The consultants' report states:

"The amount of investigation carried out to date has not been sufficient to accurately define the volume of contaminated materials on site".

    That leads them to believe that the capacity of the proposed depository will be insufficient to contain all the waste present. In addition, the consultants cast doubt on the long-term viability of the cell within which the WDA is hoping to encapsulate the waste.

    The WDA and its environmental impact report suggest one course of action and the council's independent consultants propose another. I am sure that I do not need to remind hon. Members that the industrial areas of south Wales have been left with the legacy of an unknown toxic waste cocktail. The council's consultants believe also that a proper assessment has not been made of that toxic waste content.

    The Secretary of State said at the outset that the polluter should pay. I wonder how that affects British Coal, as it is the owner of the site, although the WDA wishes to acquire it. If the polluter should pay, British Coal should pay in that instance. At the very least, the proper safety precautions should have been taken when the site was abandoned, and the fact that they were not represents a clear dereliction of duty on the part of a number of authorities. Local people should now receive full information about the site so that the best possible options for them and for the environment can be discussed and decided.

    That is why I believe that a full planning inquiry, with an inspector, should take place. It would establish principles which would apply to other areas contaminated by industrial waste in Wales--we should not have to repeat the same process time after time. I hope that the Secretary of State will support my call.