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A FURIOUS MP has demanded an inquiry after 200,000 tons of toxic Millennium Dome waste was dumped close to three villages.

Lethal arsenic, cynanide and asbestos has been buried near homes in special sites at Calvert, Buckinghamshire; Stewartby, Bedfordshire; and Weldon in Northhamptonshire. Now John Bercow, Conservative MP for Buckingham, fears the people living there may be at risk.

Mr Bercow, who has called for the independent report, said: "It is absolutely essential as far as the villagers are concerned that their safety and the safety of their children is in no doubt.

"I want confirmation that the area is safe. It is necessary for there to be clear evidence.

"It is no good an environment minister or Peter Mandelson saying it is safe, and still less a commercial interest.

"There ought to be an independent body prepared to look at these areas, and then the villagers could rest easy.

"I am concerned about the proximity of the site for existing houses and future housing.""

The waste is the result of a long-term project to clear up the Greenwich site - polluted when it housed a gasworks - where the Millennium Dome is being built.

It is understood that the waste was dumped rather than treated on site because of the Dome's fast approaching deadline. Treating waste on site takes longer.

The clean-up of the Greenwich site has involved excavating 15 metres of toxic soil at the site.

The underlying earth is so poisonous that it has had to be sealed in concrete.

The area has also been marked with bright orange netting to warn people of the danger.

When the matter was brought to the attention of Mary Brown, county councillor for Weldon, she said: "I was totally unaware of it.

"I am shocked by this news. The residents here are going to be very anxious.

"This sounds like dangerous stuff. The villagers aren't very happy about the landfill sites at all. I shall be looking into this.""

County councillor Jim Hacker, who lives a few miles from Weldon, said: "I wasn't aware of this. It is a long way to bring waste for a start.

"As far as the safety of the waste is concerned, there are strict rules and regulations, and the authorities'' job is to make sure they are observed.

"My concern would be that the authorities are making sure that they are being observed."

Environmental pressure group Friends Of The Earth has also condemned the way the clean-up has been handled.

Spokesman Mike Childs said: "The reality is that pollution moves. The landfill sites where the waste has gone may well be designed for very dangerous waste, but all landfills leak eventually.

"The people living in the next millennium will have to pick up the tab for pollution created in the current one.""

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: "There is no question of there being any environmental risk.

"It's been properly disposed of.

"It's been disposed of to appropriately licensed sites which have been properly regulated and inspected."

A spokesman for Shanks And McEwam, which operates two of the sites, said their dumps were among the safest in the world.

Mark Pengelly, chairman of Corby Council Environmental department, said: "We were told one-and- a-half years ago that waste from Greenwich was going to be put into one of our landfill sites at Weldon.

"We were assured at the time that it was no danger to the public in any way.

"Now, we hear that it is dangerous and of course this is very alarming.

"We will be putting in objections to the licensing authority.

"It should not have happened."
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Copyright 1998 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Hamer, Rupert
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Mar 22, 1998
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