Archive for June, 2024

Landfills across England could be leaking harmful toxic ooze, warn experts

Posted by

Thousands of old landfills littered across the country potentially leaking toxic ooze and vapours are more likely to be found in deprived areas, our analysis of the sites from our new WATERSHED POLLUTION MAP reveals.

Thousands of polluted landfills across England could be leaking toxic chemicals into the environment and harming people who live nearby, experts have warned.

A few decades ago, the method for getting rid of industrial and domestic waste was to stick it in a hole in the ground, cover it up and hope for the best. It was known as “dilute and disperse” and it assumed toxic substances would seep into the surrounding soils, air and water and become harmless.

There are more than 21,000 of these “historic” landfills across England, with contents that are largely unknown. A report in the British Medical Journal found that 80% of the British population lives within 2km of a functioning or closed landfill site. The location of historic landfills and current waste sites can be viewed on a new pollution map published by Watershed Investigations, along with thousands of other potentially polluting sites.

In a second story, published simultaneously in the Guardian, we spoke to communities affected by both old landfills and operational waste sites.


PM’s constituency in top 10 of water pollution ranking, investigation finds

Posted by

Rishi Sunak is running for a constituency that has ranked in the top 10 for potential water pollution, reports The Independent, using Watershed’s Pollution Map.

Richmond and Northallerton – a new constituency in North Yorkshire following boundary changes – ranked ninth in data analysis by investigative journalism platform Watershed.

Mr Sunak was previously MP in the old Richmond (Yorkshire) constituency, which has now been split mostly into Richmond and Northallerton, with some of the original area going to Thirsk and Malton.



Posted by

Wondering what’s in your water? Now you can find out with Watershed’s new, first-of-its-kind Pollution Map.

As part of our investigations, we collect a lot of data from field research, from FOI/EIRs and from available official sources. We wanted to collate it, sort it and make it easily accessible so that as many people as possible can see the wide range of pollution and other environmental pressures taking place in their backyards, so they can better understand the challenges and perhaps even take steps to help improve it.

It contains more than 120 datasets, ranging from river health, bathing water health, to historic landfill sites, sewage dumping, intensive farming, heavy industry and a lot more. While it’s not going to show you any direct causation between a potential polluter and failing water body, it’s fascinating to see what our rivers, seas, wildlife and habitats are dealing with and it begs further investigation.

As journalists, the temptation is to hoard information until you’re ready to break a big story but nature in the UK is in crisis so we decided to to arm as many people as possible — other journalists, campaigners, communities, scientists, policymakers, regulators, lawyers and more — with as much open source data as we can.

We’ll keep adding to the map and we’ll update existing datasets once a year, where updates are available. If you have any ideas about datasets we should add, please get in touch and let us know how we can access them.

Watershed gains nothing from releasing this map. Of course it will attract traffic to our website but that is not among our priorities. We remain committed to high quality environmental investigative journalism for existing mainstream media outlets.

If you use data from the map, we would be grateful if you could mention it somewhere in your work, so we can track the impact it is having and know it was worth all the effort, but that of course is not obligatory and the main thing is that it is used and it is helpful.

Knowledge is power but shared knowledge is more powerful. Please share the map far and wide.


Here’s a short video showing you how to use it:


(Best viewed on a large screen.)

Watershed pollution map

Watershed - Investigative Journalism