I think you have hit an actual bug, and that it doesn't have anything
to do with python, because I have encountered a similar thing in a
modified version of gimpressionist that I worked up, written purely
in C.  I believe that there is some sort of memory leak that causes
gimp in some situations to maintain reference to tiles that are no
longer being used in any way, and it is something that shows up when
you create and delete layers over and over again, in a certain way.  
So it would probably be useful for you to file a bug report about this, 
if you would.

The memory that is being exhausted, by the way, is the "swap" area
that gimp allocates on the hard disk each time you run it.  The
tile manager moves tile data there if space is needed.

  -- Bill

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