Bust Caerwent composting company leaves 20,000-tonne pile of waste

REGRETS: Jackie Powell, a director of Wormtech, pictured at the firm’s site in Caerwent 20,000-tonne pile of waste

REGRETS: Jackie Powell, a director of Wormtech, pictured at the firm’s site in Caerwent 20,000-tonne pile of waste

First published in News South Wales Argus: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Reporter

A COMPOSTING company has ceased operations leaving a gigantic 20,000-tonne pile of rotting waste in its wake.

Caerwent-based Wormtech said it could cost as much as £1 million to clean up its site.

Jackie Powell, a director of the company that had its environment permit suspended by the Environment Agency in July, said the firm is being liquidated with the loss of 19 jobs.

It came as Monmouthshire council announced yesterday it was terminating its contract with the company, effective today, and will be seeking the recovery of funds from the firm.

The Environment Agency confirmed the company has around 20,000 tonnes of green and food waste remaining on the site.

Ms Powell, asked by the Argus about what was happening with the waste, said: “I don’t know. Ask the Environment Agency.”

She said the company ran out of money after the Environment Agency suspended its permit.

The director pinned the blame for the firm’s closure on the agency and said Wormtech had aimed to move off the Caerwent site.

She added: “I’m devastated. Of course I have got regrets.

“We were doing everything we possibly could to meet their requirements. But the goal posts kept changing.”

After the permit was suspended, food waste from Monmouthshire council had been taken by Wormtech to a site in Gloucestershire, until August 24 when the firm told the authority it couldn’t continue.

Rachel Jowitt, waste strategy and resource manager at the council, said this was a breach of contract.

The council says it is now trying to recover funds from the company.

It is now working with waste-firm Viridor under a short term arrangement, and food waste is going to two sites – in Somerset and at Exeter. It is planning to look award a new contract in the newyear. The company, which started taking in waste at the Caerwent site in 2004, was based on leased Ministry of Defence land near the Caerwent training base, although Ms Powell says that the lease has expired.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The MOD is aware of the situation with Wormtech at Caer-went. We are liaising with the Environment Agency, which is responsible for dealing with environmental issues associated with the site.” Company fined £40,000 last year THE Environment Agency is considering whether to take further action against Wormtech.

The Argus first reported in 2010 that the company was hit with an enforcement notice from the agency after it found effluent leaking out into the adjacent military training site.

In 2011 the company was taken to court and fined £40,000 after polluting the Nedern Brook and forcing the nearby Ministry of Defence training base to shut for three months.

Then, last summer, the agency told the company to stop taking in waste after it found E.coli and salmonella on the site.

Officers had found a substance known as leachate – which is produced by composting – coming out of a building used for food waste deliveries.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “To make sure the environment is protected, we are managing leachate levels on the site by removing it ourselves, although this is remains the responsibility of the company.

Our investigation into the company continues and we are considering what further action we will take.”

The agency confirmed with Public Health Wales that the site is not currently a risk to public health.

Comments (4)

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11:34am Fri 19 Oct 12

gadget says...

So typical of a government agency shutting down a company with red tape. A local company with a good reputation ruined by jobsworths with Waste where there brains should be .
So typical of a government agency shutting down a company with red tape. A local company with a good reputation ruined by jobsworths with Waste where there brains should be . gadget
  • Score: -1

11:54am Fri 19 Oct 12

Mr_T says...

The environmental permitting scheme is there for a reason and if companies can't comply with the permit that the companies have agreed to then they shouldn't be allowed to operate. The permit conditions set out measures which protect both public health and the environment. Just because this is a so-called "green" process, composting has lots of issues surrounding bio-aerosols, odours, fly infestations, leachate. I am pretty sure you wouldn't be saying this is just red tape if it was an industiral process!!
The environmental permitting scheme is there for a reason and if companies can't comply with the permit that the companies have agreed to then they shouldn't be allowed to operate. The permit conditions set out measures which protect both public health and the environment. Just because this is a so-called "green" process, composting has lots of issues surrounding bio-aerosols, odours, fly infestations, leachate. I am pretty sure you wouldn't be saying this is just red tape if it was an industiral process!! Mr_T
  • Score: 0

12:36pm Fri 19 Oct 12

Radio Wales says...

Here's an idea... Why don't they clean it all up at the tax payers expense? That's how they usually solve these issues - isn't it?
Here's an idea... Why don't they clean it all up at the tax payers expense? That's how they usually solve these issues - isn't it? Radio Wales
  • Score: 0

1:42pm Fri 19 Oct 12

GwentVoice says...

This company wasn't closed down by red tape! It's because they polluted a local water course. Do you really want polluted water in yor area??

Perhaps this director should have cared more before, perhaps then this wouldn't have happened. She's got a right cheek! I'd move it too he garden le her sort it out.
This company wasn't closed down by red tape! It's because they polluted a local water course. Do you really want polluted water in yor area?? Perhaps this director should have cared more before, perhaps then this wouldn't have happened. She's got a right cheek! I'd move it too he garden le her sort it out. GwentVoice
  • Score: 0

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