2014 Update: As of January 2014, the site is only accepting "inert" material, such as rubble and soils. The article below was written in 2009 and RATS have decided to keep it as an archived record of some of the things that have potentially been dumped in the quarry over the years.
“Non Toxic” Waste
The Environment agency says that the majority of waste that goes into the quarry is household waste from wheelie bins etc. However, “majority” is quite a loose word
At the moment, the current process is that most bin wagons dump their loads at a transfer station. The waste is then “processed” i.e. sieved, and much larger wagons take the waste to Houghton. Anyone who lives nearby knows that a huge number of lorries come in and out of the quarry all day. These lorries contain domestic, commercial and industrial waste, but in reality who knows?
When we asked what this waste might contain, we were told that it is “commercially sensitive.” Houghton Quarry appears to be the only landfill site in the country where this bizarre rule applies. Of course the truth is no one realy knows and most involved don't care!
Let’s just think about this for a moment: The regulating authority that’s supposed to protect us and the environment from exploitation; doesn’t know what’s going into the quarry! If the Environment agency doesn’t know what’s going on, what chance have the residents of Houghton got of finding out what’s being dumped in the middle of our town and how can this possibly be properly regulated?
The only thing RATS have managed to get hold of which tells us what might be going into the quarry is a copy of the permit that the EA supplied to Biffa in 2007 which gives a detailed list of what can be put into the quarry. The list is several pages long with an average of 40 items on each page.
Below is a list of just some of the “Non-Toxic” waste that Houghton Quarry is allowed to accept. Remember, this is sitting on unstable rock that is within your water supply. If this isn’t toxic, I don’t know what is!
· Asbestos containing construction materials.
· Wastes from asbestos-cement manufacture.
· Wastes from lead thermal metallurgy – that’s the waste water from treating lead – a well known highly dangerous metal. If its not dangerous why are lead water pipes banned?
· Animal faeces, urine and manure
· Animal tissue waste (dead animals)
· Materials “unsuitable for consumption or processing” – Whatever they are!
· Sludges from on site effluent treatment containing chromium
· Sludges from the treatment of urban waste water.
· Wastes containing sulphur
· Construction and demolition wastes including excavated soil from “contaminated” sites. If this has to be removed from contaminated sites how on earth can it safely be put above our drinking water supply?
· Hexavalent chromium
· Medical waste
This is on top of all the domestic waste that is tipped there too, such as nappies, sanitary towels and pretty much everything else we all throw away and hope never to see again. All of this is in a poorly regulated, poorly lined, geologically unstable site in the middle of a town.