Disused landfill site in West Dorset is leaking toxic waste into the sea

Disused landfill site in West Dorset is leaking toxic waste into the sea

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Coastal erosion in West Dorset is releasing toxic waste from a disused landfill site into the sea.
As the coastline at East Beach cliff is washed away by the tide it is revealing plastic, metal and concrete waste that lay buried in the Spittles Lane landfill site since the 1970s.
Now scientists at Southampton University are warning that the rest of the waste at this former landfill site will be washed into the sea within the next century if costly work is not done soon.
Professor Robert Nicholls, a professor of coastal engineering, said: “The geological timescale of coastal landfill means this problem will not solve itself and we have to start addressing flooding and erosion of landfills now, otherwise this will be a major problem in the future.”
Professor Kate Spencer from Queen Mary University of London, who worked on the coastal study, said: “If this site erodes, solid waste including plastics and asbestos would be released to our beaches, whilst flooding with sea water has the potential to release further pollutants, even though the waste has been buried for more than 50 years.”
The cost of removing all the waste from the former landfill site in Spittles Lane could be as high as £6million.
A university spokesman said: “Spittles Lane landfill is on an eroding cliff top which has undercut the landfill and resulted in waste being released onto the beach and into the sea. Researchers outlined options to help manage the risks faced by landfill sites on the coast, including improved sea defences against rising sea levels, additional monitoring or even removing the landfilled waste. Removing all the waste from Spittles Lane landfill could cost between £4m and £6m.”
Pollution is not the only problem being caused by coastal erosion in the area; Charmouth Neighbourhood plan says the area could be at increased risk of flooding because of shortcomings in coastal defences. It says: “Risks arise from the inherent instability created by the local geology, as well as those areas of future land instability and potential new flood areas resulting from the failure or removal of the Charmouth coast defences sometime after 2025.”

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