ASSURANCES have been given that the health of Huntingdonshire residents living near the site of a fuel leak is not at risk.

ASSURANCES have been given that the health of Huntingdonshire residents living near the site of a fuel leak is not at risk.

Petrol giant Shell admitted to The Hunts Post that soil was contaminated during the refurbishment of the Great North Road petrol station in Buckden after a leak from an out-of-service fuel tank six months ago, but experts investigating the incident say there was no threat to drinking water.

A site clean-up is due to take place shortly, but the incident has delayed the re-opening of the station indefinitely. It closed in November and was due to re-open in January with a new shop and larger service area.

Residents say the nearest filling station is a seven-mile round trip to Brampton Hut.

Eric Kearley, who lives in The Osiers, just metres from the petrol station, criticised Shell's lack of communication.

He said: "The whole thing has not been spoken about. We have had no communication, not even a board up there to say what's happening. It has just been closed for 20 to 30 weeks without a word. All the villagers used to rely on it."

A Shell spokesman said: "The petrol station will remain closed while investigations are carried out.

"This follows a release of water from an underground fuel storage tank. The site was under redevelopment at the time, with all the tanks having been taken out of service during the construction works.

"Shell is working with the regulators and our contractors to investigate the issue and establish what remedial action may be needed.

"We will conclude this process as quickly as possible so that the site can re-open. We would like to reassure local residents that health, safety, security and the environment are Shell's key priorities."

An Environment Agency spokesman said its officers were aware of the incident.

Analysis by Huntingdonshire District Council's environmental health team had uncovered no contamination of the drinking water. Residents would have been contacted only if there had been a risk.

A spokesman said: "We have now agreed for the petrol station to reinstate new petrol tanks providing remediation of the contaminated soil takes place and additional monitoring is carried out at the site in future."

Buckden Parish Council clerk John Chase said his members had received no communication from Shell.