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Potential impact zones from Whitemoss

whitemoss pollution map

What’s the problem with Whitemoss hazardous waste site?

  • Toxic dust and gases escape from landfill sites1,2,3
  • Skelmersdale is downwind of Whitemoss
  • Most of Skelmersdale and much of Bickerstaffe, Lathom South and Upholland are within 3 km of Whitemoss. Studies on other hazardous waste sites have found ill health impacts in people living within the 3 km ‘danger zone’4
  • Scientific studies have found that families living near hazardous waste sites have an increased risk of birth defects,5,6 low birth weight,7 and respiratory disease8
  • People could spend their entire lives being exposed to Whitemoss.


  1. In Bishop’s Cleeve, Glos, a research chemist, Dr A. Tubb., C.Chem, C.Sci, FRSC, of Greenfield Science Ltd, ordered an analysis of dust samples from verges near Wingmoor Farm hazardous waste landfill. They were found to contain hazardous material from the tip.
  2. Environment Agency, 2013. Monitoring particulate matter in ambient air around waste facilities. Technical Guidance Note (Monitoring) M17. Version 2. July.
  3. Parker T et al, 2002. Investigation of the composition and emissions of trace components in landfill gas. R&D Technical Report P1-438/TR. Research contractor: Komex. Environment Agency.
  4. Porta D et al, 2009. Systematic review of epidemiological studies on health effects associated with management of solid waste. Environmental Health 2009, 8:60. doi:10.1186/1476-069X-8-60. Free full access: http://www.ehjournal.net/content/8/1/60
  5. Dolk H et al, 1998. Risk of congenital anomalies near hazardous-waste landfill sites in Europe: the EUROHAZCON study. The Lancet 352:423–427.
  6. Kuehn CM et al, 2007. Risk of malformations associated with residential proximity to hazardous waste sites in Washington State. Environmental Research 103 (2007):405–412.
  7. Elliott P et al, 2001. Risk of adverse birth outcomes in populations living near landfill sites. BMJ 323:363–363.
  8. Mattiello A et al, 2013. Health effects associated with the disposal of solid waste in landfills and incinerators in populations living in surrounding areas: a systematic review. Int J Public Health 58:725–735.

*See witness statements at infrastructure.planningportal.gov.uk then search for Whitemoss.
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Interview with Hannah Fraser, hydrogeologist

Hannah Fraser, hydrogeologist

Is Whitemoss suitable for a hazardous waste site?

There are a number of aspects of the site in this specific setting that mean that the controls on groundwater below the site are quite complex. The geology under the site is a layer of peat, then some sands and gravels, and then quite a thick layer of clay, and then below that are the Coal Measures. The particular area where they want to extend the landfill has been mined and there are two shafts on the site, so there are direct connections down to the coal measures, which are very heavily fractured and faulted, because of the mining and natural fracturing.

The shafts go from the surface, down though the layers of peat, sands and gravels and down into the Coal Measures, and they go some distance into the coal measures.

What does that mean may happen to the site?

The Coal Measures are an aquifer and carry water. They tend to carry water in fractures and fissures and within the rock itself where there are sandstone layers within the Coal Measures. The landfill is going to be excavated down through the peat, sand and mud into the Coal Measures, and at that point, if all you did was dig a big hole into the Coal Measures, the groundwater, which is under pressure, would come up above the level of the coal measures, and the level would settle somewhere quite close to ground level. So it’s going to require active pumping to keep the groundwater below the base of the landfill.