Groundwater risks defeat landfill plan despite thick layer of clay

Evidence that a natural deposit of clay may not provide a barrier against groundwater pollution has led the Environment Secretary to dismiss plans for a Hampshire landfill. The decision came as scientists issued a new warning that the widespread presence of natural solution features in chalk may provide pathways for rapid penetration of pollutants into aquifers across much of southern and eastern England.

Solution features such as swallow holes are commonplace in chalk areas, but until recently they were not thought to be a pathway for pollutants where the chalk is overlain by thick deposits of clay. However, in 1996 an incident in Tangley, Hampshire, showed how pollutants can pass rapidly into groundwater. The case culminated recently in the conviction of an MP, Michael Colvin, for contaminating groundwater with cattle slurry (ENDS Report 278,

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