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No ‘enforcement action’ will be taken against Powys Council over school pollution incident

Gwernyfed High School near Brecon (Pic: Google Streetview)

NO “enforcement action” will be taken against Powys County Council for an oil pollution incident at a high school an environment watchdog has said.

Last week it emerged that a pollution incident had occurred at Gwernyfed High School which is in the village of Three Cocks between Brecon and Hay-on-Wye.

800 tonnes of contaminated soil has had to be dug up and taken away from the site.

In May last year kerosene oil was found in the drainage system next to the sports hall at the school.

The leak could have been going on for several years and the cost of dealing with the incident is said to be £140,000.

The incident was revealed by Plaid Cymru group leader, Cllr Elwyn Vaughan who wanted councillors to be informed on the situation.

Cllr Vaughan also wanted assurances that the pollution had not seeped into local watercourses.

Cllr Vaughan said:  “The question also remains will the council face prosecution by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) as would be the case with private polluters.”

Wales’ environment body watchdog NRW are aware of the oil spill at the school.

NRW, south Powys environment team leader, Jenny Phillips said: “Our officers looked into the matter and decided that enforcement action was not necessary as there was no broader ground or surface water pollution, and the contaminated land was removed and remediated in the correct manner.

“This response is in line with our enforcement policy.”

A Powys County Council spokesman said: “In May 2023, kerosene was found in the drainage system next to the sports hall building at Gwernyfed High School.

“The oil had emanated from a decommissioned oil tank next to the Sports Centre building that had been removed in 2011.

“Natural Resources Wales and the council’s Contaminated Land Officer have been informed and kept updated with progress.

“There has been 800 tons of contaminated material removed from Gwernyfed High School to a specialist and licensed tip.

“This area has been backfilled with stone and is due to be reinstated with topsoil, a new grass surface as well as a new pedestrian access pathway.”

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