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Caithness News Bulletins January 2006

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Newtonhill Woodland To Be Tested For Gas
The Highland Council is preparing to carry out an investigation of a former landfill site in Caithness, which is currently community woodland. The Council has written today (Monday 15 January 2006)) to residents in 25 properties near the site and to community groups which use the site, to advise them of the works which will begin later this month.

The site is at Newtonhill approximately 2 km south west of the centre of Wick. Site works will commence on Tuesday 23 January 2006 and will continue for an estimated four weeks. Monitoring will continue initially for a period of 6 months. During the site works there may be restrictions on access and use of the community woodland for Health and Safety reasons; although disruption of the normal use of the site will be limited as far as is possible.

Investigation works involving the digging of trial pits and drilling of boreholes are being carried out to assess whether gases are being generated in the landfill and if there is the potential for them to migrate from the site. An assessment of soils and wastes in the surface layers of the site will also be carried out as will the monitoring of contaminants in ground and surface waters associated with the site. As soon as the results are known, the Council will contact residents and community groups. Those residents written to today live within 250 metres of the former landfill site.

In a letter to residents, Mr Ian Hargrave, The Highland Council's Area Manager for Caithness, wrote: "I should emphasise that Highland Council is carrying this work out in the interest of public safety and that the investigation works are precautionary and gas generation may not be occurring on site. Nearby residents and users of the community woodland will continue to be advised of any developments as the works progress."

Residents with any query should contact the Contaminated Land Team on Freephone 0800 838 009. This number will be staffed until 9 pm tonight (Monday) and from 9 am - 5 pm Monday to Friday

Mr Hargrave said that the Council had a duty to investigate land which may be contaminated land and ensure that any necessary remediation is carried out. The landfill was operated by the former Caithness County and District Councils from the mid 1960s until closure in the mid 1970's and has been managed as a community woodland since 1996. Gas generation within landfills is dependent on a number of factors, which includes the composition and volume of waste deposited, the site hydrology, and the age of the landfill. Gas monitoring has not been carried out at the site in the past.

Castletown Survey Found No Risk
A similar set of tests was carried out at a site at Castletown last year and nothing was found.