A 'POTENTIAL disaster' could be looming at a claimed toxic waste dump site in Herefordshire.

According to members of Herefordshire Friends of the Earth, a "toxic mixture and its fumes" have started escaping from the ground at Sutton Walls, between Marden and Sutton St Nicholas, threatening to bring about a "potential environmental disaster."

Lying four miles from Hereford, Iron Age hillfort Sutton Walls is a Scheduled Ancient Monument which has been associated with both King Offa and King Ethelbert.

But during the 1960s and 1970s, the site was used by Monsanto and other companies as an industrial tip for vast amounts of paint, nail varnish, fuel oil sludge and other chemicals including an extreme neurotoxin PCB, the group said.

Reverend Paul Cawthorn, an expert in Monsanto waste sites, said: “Sutton Walls is one of the most chemically contaminated leaking sites in England.

“I’m scared the problem will increase in coming decades.

“This is clearly contaminated land, in plain English, and needs more attention.”


Martin Prior, who lived near the Sutton St Nicholas site while it was still being used, said locals would regularly find it impossible to spend time outside because of the fumes and smells. 

“There were lagoons of black and orange slime that stank like nobody’s business," he said.

“There were stories of people’s cats and dogs falling into this stuff, coming back hairless, and expiring soon after."

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Mr Prior said his family had been alarmed to find orange foam coming out of the taps, which were supplied by a deep borehole, during the seventies.

“Clearly it had seeped into the gravel layer," he said.

“I think it was backfilled in the eighties, but there were still periodic breakthroughs where you’d see horrible goo coming out through the ground.

“More people live here these days, so anything nasty going on now is set to affect a lot more people than back in the day.”

A meeting about the issue will be held at Marden Community Centre on Thursday, October 19, at 7pm.