ANGRY campaigners demanded answers after the Environment Agency ruled that groundwater tests had not been faked at Droppingwell tip.
The protest group leading opposition to the site’s reopening presented evidence showing data was being submitted as far as late 2019 for a borehole which had been filled in 2017.
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The EA concluded that the borehole — testing if the land was suitable for the reintroduction of waste dumping — had been damaged but was “still serviceable”.
And the agency concluded its investigation into site operators Grange Landfill — saying: “We found no evidence of falsification of groundwater sampling data.”
Steve McKenna, Droppingwell Action Group chairman, said: “The residents of Kimberworth demand answers about their investigation processes and how they arrived at their decision.
“We were promised a full and transparent investigation. This borehole was destroyed by the council in April 2017 but Grange Landfill were still providing water data samples until October 2019.”
Mr McKenna said he and Cllr Ian Jones had not been contacted as part of the investigation, despite providing written evidence.
He added: “They have instead accepted Grange Landfill’s version of events, which claimed that the borehole was allegedly vandalised by members of the public in November 2019, making it impossible for samples to be produced.
“This doesn’t explain the other two-and-a-half year’s worth of samples that were submitted from this non-existent borehole.
“And it doesn’t explain why the alleged ‘vandalism’ wasn’t reported to the Environment Agency prior to the site’s end of year report, some four months after they claim it was vandalised.”
Grange Landfill is set to reopen the tip — sealed in the 1990s and labelled an environmental “timebomb” by protesters — with a permit for 205,000 tonnes of waste a year.
The borehole evidence was presented to the EA at a Rotherham Council meeting in January. The investigation had been expected to be completed by April but was not published until December.
Grange Landfill is currently undertaking works on a surface system and clay barrier to protect groundwater. No disposal activities can take place until the EA is happy with this set-up.
The permit conditions also require the operators to test water quality to establish a benchmark by which the agency can monitor any impact on groundwater once landfilling resumes.
EA area environment manager Jacqui Tootill said: “This was a serious allegation. Environmental permits are in place to protect people and the environment and we take potential breaches extremely seriously.
“We therefore launched an immediate investigation. This included a thorough audit of the site’s monitoring regime and an examination of the boreholes on site as well as interviews with key witnesses.
“We concluded that whilst the borehole in question was damaged and repaired on several occasions between April 2017 and October 2019, it was still serviceable up until the point that the last water sample was taken and submitted in October 2019. It finally fell into disrepair, allegedly due to vandalism, in November 2019.”
The EA has told Grange Landfill to reinstate the borehole for future monitoring.
Mr McKenna called on RMBC to begin proceedings for a judicial review of the EA’s investigation.