Glasgow & West Scotland

New test fears over Motherwell 'toxic homes'

New claims have been made about land contamination at a North Lanarkshire estate where residents fear their homes may have been built on toxic land.

Collins Solicitors said recent tests at Motherwell's Watling Street estate had detected "exceptionally high levels" of potentially harmful chemicals.

It has asked to meet North Lanarkshire Council officials to discuss the issue.

The council said no evidence had been found to date suggesting a "significant risk to health" from contaminated soil.

The Watling Street estate at the centre of the issue was previously occupied by factories and industrial plants.

Contamination fears

Since the new housing estate was built in the 1990s some local people have blamed their illnesses on possible contaminated land.

Last year, the council said it had found traces of trichloroethylene, or TCE, - a potentially harmful chemical - in open ground close to homes in Forum Place, Romulus Court, Empire Way and Tiber Avenue.

In a letter to residents, the authority said the levels found presented "no immediate risk" to householders.

Collins Solicitors later said tests which it had commissioned found the presence of potentially harmful chemicals which "far exceed stipulated safe levels".

It said analysis of air samples, taken from 20 properties in and around Forum Place revealed a significant number of chlorinated compounds and petroleum products (in particular Toluene) in the indoor air in the properties.

In May, the council published the results of a second batch of tests which found there was "no evidence to date to suggest significant health risks" on an estate.

The study recommended further investigations be conducted as a "precaution".

Collins Solicitors has now said a second batch of tests, which it commissioned, showed there were health risks to clients on the estate.

'Toxic materials'

The indoor tests in and around Forum Place and Tiber Avenue found "exceptionally high levels of TCE, PCE and other solvents".

The law firm said this reinforced the findings of its testing last year and "further indicate that levels of toxic materials in the indoor air in some properties is far worse than originally thought".

It states: "The presence of these solvents in the air clearly indicates the presence of a pathway for contaminated soil and groundwater to impact the air quality within homes at the site."

Des Collins, senior partner at Collins Solicitors, said: "TCE is a well-known and accepted carcinogen. The levels of this harmful product in four houses are hugely excessive and the findings of this latest report have potentially far-reaching and damaging consequences.

"Further, the latest evidence of other solvents being detected very often at dangerous levels give real cause for concern.

"We have today written to North Lanarkshire Council asking for an urgent meeting in order that immediate steps might be taken to resolve these issues."

The council, however, criticised Collins Solicitors for releasing information through the media.

A spokeswoman said: "Once again we are disappointed that Collins Solicitors have chosen to cause distress to residents by making broad claims through the media, as opposed to sharing the results and methodology used for the tests they claim to have carried out.

"North Lanarkshire Council has consistently sought to publish and share all of its results throughout what has been an exhaustive testing regime.

"We are currently awaiting a finalised report on phase three testing on the site from our independent contractor. However, we have found no evidence to date that suggests a significant risk to health from contamination in the soil.

"We once again urge Collins Solicitors to share their full report, including methodology, with us as soon as possible in order that we can continue to act in the best interests of all the residents at the site, as we have done throughout this investigative process."

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