Land inquiry will go ahead

THE Government will foot the bill for a full investigation of land contamination by a potential cancer-causing chemical at an Eynesbury mobile home site. But, if the residents have to be moved while remedial work is carried out, Council Tax payers will ha

THE Government will foot the bill for a full investigation of land contamination by a potential cancer-causing chemical at an Eynesbury mobile home site.

But, if the residents have to be moved while remedial work is carried out, Council Tax payers will have to pick up the tab for temporary accommodation, Huntingdonshire District Council's cabinet heard on Thursday.

As reported in last week's Hunts Post, a routine probe of the site of former clay pits and brick and tile works off Howitts Lane, found the presence of benzo(alpha)pyrene, an aromatic hydrocarbon.

So far, only 15 of the 50 homes on the site have been found to be affected, but HDC has agreed to fund a full study, which could cost up to £35,000.


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The chemical, which comes from pulverised fuel ash dumped in the clay pits during or shortly after World War II, before the site was built on, has been shown to cause cancer in rodents that were exposed to large doses.

No safe limit for exposure is specified by the Government, Councillor Deborah Reynolds told the cabinet. But HDC's investigators have found concentrations at 10 times the level at which benzo(alpha)pyrene is normally present in Britain.

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HDC stressed that the theoretical risk existed only with a lifetime's exposure - over 70 years - and that there was no danger from short-term exposure.

Residents at the site are underwhelmed by the discovery.

A straw poll for The Hunts Post - quoted at the meeting - found that, while they were touched by HDC's concern for their welfare, they felt no risk to their health. Their only concern was that they might be made to move away from their homes while remedial work was carried out.

"We told people the moment we found out about it, and they are impressed by the way we are dealing with it," Cllr Reynolds added.

The council has already paid out £14,000 to deal with a build-up of carbon dioxide - a product of decomposition of benzo(alpha)pyrene and one of the largest components of the air we breathe - by installing air bricks beneath the homes to enable it to escape into the atmosphere.

The full investigation is expected to be completed by Easter, with remedial work following in the summer, HDC said.

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