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Gas from closed Norfolk landfill sites used to generate power, research reveals

Norfolk is home to 12 closed landfill sites containing hazardous waste – and gas from some of them is being used to generate electricity.

Environment Agency data analysed by the ENDS Report, an environmental policy magazine, shows there are 12 historic landfill sites spread across the county containing “waste which would pose a risk to human and health and the environment if it were to escape”.

Five of the sites are in north Norfolk, plus one in west Norfolk.

According to the Environment Agency, the 12 sites are managed by the local authority.

Joel Hull, Norfolk County Council’s head of waste, said: “The county council actively manages the aftercare and safety of 22 closed landfill sites in Norfolk which it is responsible for.

“These sites are all closed and some were closed many years ago.

“This only represents some of the closed landfills in Norfolk, with other sites in the county being the responsibility of the companies that operated them.

“The county council has risk-assessed all sites it has liability for and monitors those assessed as a risk.

“The measures taken by the county council on sites it manages includes monitoring the quality of groundwater around sites and sampling for levels of landfill gas on and around sites, extraction and treatment of landfill gas and contaminated liquid (leachate) to make sure things are safe.”

He said on some sites, the landfill gas from the control systems is used to generate electricity, while others, where possible, are opened up so people can use them recreationally.

Will Owen, an energy expert at price comparison site Uswitch, said: “Toxic substances in landfills can leech into the earth and groundwater over time.

“This creates a huge environmental hazard. Landfills bring hazards such as odour, smoke, noise, bugs, and water supply contamination.

“Substances include arsenic, mercury, PVC, acids, lead, and home cleaning chemicals.”

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