Sun, Feb 03, 2019 - Page 5 News List

UK officials fear piles of garbage in no-deal Brexit

The Guardian

If the UK leaves the EU without a deal on March 29, export licenses for millions of tonnes of waste would become invalid overnight.

Leaking stockpiles could cause pollution, British Environment Agency officials said.

The agency is also concerned that if farmers cannot export beef and lamb, a backlog of livestock on farms could cause liquid manure stores to overflow.

A senior MP said the problems could cause a public health and environmental pollution emergency.

“It could all get very ugly, very quickly,” an agency source said.

The e-mails leaked to the Guardian were sent to agency staff, asking for 42 volunteers to staff crisis management centers that would deal with incidents.

The chief executive of the civil service on Tuesday revealed plans to move up to 5,000 staff into an emergency command and control center in the event of no deal.

An agency e-mail sent on Thursday, labeled “importance: high,” said crisis centers could go live on Feb. 18 and run from 7am to 8pm seven days a week, with plans to operate 24/7 if needed.

To explain the potential tasks, the e-mail gave two examples.

“If there is a no-deal scenario, the current export of waste may cease for a period. This could result in stockpiled waste which causes licence breaches,” the e-mail said. “Odours will obviously be an issue as the stockpiled waste putrefies and there may be runoff of leachates, causing secondary pollution.”

The e-mail said the waste could become a high-profile issue.

“It will quickly escalate into a political one because the operators will state that they have no means to move the waste,” it said.

The second example related to animal slurry.

“Problems may arise in exporting livestock to the EU. In that situation, farmers may be overstocked and unable to export lamb/beef etc. That means that they may have problems with slurry storage capacity and insufficient land spreading capability,” the e-mail said.

“The examples seem like real possibilities. There’s a serious amount of panic going on,” the agency source said.

“We are interested in any volunteers across [the environment and business division] no matter what their level of experience is, their grade, location or incident knowledge,” one of the e-mails told agency staff.

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