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Last Updated: Monday, 13 December, 2004, 20:10 GMT
Sea erosion threatens toxic dump
Trow quarry, South Shields
The South Shields site is popular with walkers
A seaside community is at risk from coastal erosion, which is threatening to expose a toxic landfill site, a council has admitted.

South Tyneside Council says a draft study predicts possible long-term problems from cancer-causing chemicals.

The 60-year-old site at Trow Quarry in South Shields, contains arsenic, cyanide, asbestos and methane pockets.

But the cliffside site is at risk of being exposed by erosion from the tides which batter the coastline.

The quarry is owned and managed by the National Trust, which has reassured residents and visitors to the area that there are no short-term risks.

The site is popular with walkers and is close to the route used by the Great North Run.

Council officials are preparing a bid to central government for funds to begin a major coast protection project, which it is hoped will prevent further erosion.

Nick Dolan of the National Trust said: "There is no reason at this moment in time to close the site.

There is no immediate risk to the people of the borough from this site
Amanda Skelton, South Tyneside Council

"Therefore it remains a public open space and people can be assured the National Trust is managing the situation and should there be any dangers we would be open and honest with the public."

Amanda Skelton, executive director for neighbourhood services with South Tyneside Council, admitted the report had been with officials for a year.

She said: "This is a draft report and part of ongoing work to inform our long-term strategy for coast protection in the borough.

"There is no immediate risk to the people of the borough from this site.

"We have every confidence in the National Trust to manage and monitor the site.

"We are bidding to central government to start our coastal defence work next year."

The council has organised a public meeting to further reassure anxious residents on 16 December at South Shields town hall.



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