Composting on hold after E.coli and salmonella find at Caerwent site
A FOOD composting firm previously fined over pollution was told yesterday to stop taking in waste after a government agency found E.coli and salmonella on its site.
The Environment Agency says there is a serious risk of pollution at Wormtech, Caerwent.
Officers have found a substance known as leachate – which is produced by the composting process – coming out of the wall of a building used for food waste deliveries, and coming off the back of a compost mound.
Samples taken from leachate on the site have found high levels of ammoniacal nitrogen, which is toxic to fish at lowlevels. E.coli and salmonella have also been detected.
The agency has served a notice suspending Wormtech’s environment permit effective fromtoday, meaning it cannot bring any waste until it proves it has sealed its buildings.
Wormtech handles 10,000 tonnes of food and green waste a year for the Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent councils, as well as food waste for Monmouthshire.
All three councils say they are finding or already have alternative arrangements in place.
Kelly Jarman, of Environment Agency Wales, said: “We have taken these steps to protect the environment and human health.”
However a spokeswoman for Public Health Wales said the agency is satisfied that there is no wider public health risk.
The move comes after the agency demanded improvements to one of Wormtech’s buildings over pollution concerns earlier this month.
It was fined £41,000 in May 2011 after polluting a water supply and forcing a Ministry of Defence training base into quarantine for three months.
Jackie Powell of Wormtech said the firm was doing everything it could to work with the Environment Agency, and has asked for more time to sort out its issues.
A Blaenau Gwent council spokeswoman said the council is agreeing contingency plans, while both Monmouthshire and Torfaen said contingency plans were in place and there would be no interruption to waste collections.