A UN report will urge an independent investigation into the potential health impacts of the UK’s largest opencast coalmine, BBC Wales has learnt.
Residents living alongside Ffos-y-Fran near Merthyr Tydfil have led a long campaign, alleging that they are affected by air and noise pollution. The report’s author said complaint handling raised “many concerns” about the UK’s approach to regulation. The mine operator defended its record and claimed the report was biased. The UN’s special rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes Baskut Tuncak met campaigners in Merthyr Tydfil as part of an official visit to the UK in January. But the mine’s operator Miller Argent accused Mr Tuncak of bias and said the company had a “proud record of mining responsibly”. His role is to assess and advise governments about their efforts to protect the human rights of communities at risk of pollution, such as the rights to life, health and adequate housing. In an interview with BBC Wales, he said the plight of the community surrounding Ffos-y-Fran was “top of the list” in terms of the “many pressing issues” he had encountered. “The first observation that came to mind was how incredibly close this community is to a massive open pit coalmine,” Mr Tuncak said. “I heard allegations of very high rates of childhood asthma and cancer clusters within the community. But despite those allegations I didn’t hear any evidence of a strong intervention by the government to investigate or any strong reaction by the companies concerned to investigate themselves.”

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