Zane Gbangbola death: Council makes air bricks offer

Zane Gbangbola
Image caption Zane Gbangbola died at his family home in Chertsey during severe flooding

Modifications have been offered to properties close to a former landfill site which was blamed for causing the death of a seven-year-old boy.

Zane Gbangbola died at his Chertsey home during the winter floods of 2014.

An inquest ruled it was due to carbon monoxide poisoning from a petrol pump dispersing the water, but his parents blame toxic fumes from the landfill.

Surrey County Council has now written to residents offering to replace sealed air bricks that might retain gases.

Image caption A coroner said Zane was killed by carbon monoxide from a pump used to reduce flood levels

The authority said its records showed occupants had installed flood protection products in 2014-15 with a government grant.

"Since then, the Environment Agency has told us that products which restrict airflow beneath a building's floor, such as self-closing air bricks or air bricks with covers, may not be suitable for properties, like yours, which are close to a current or historic landfill site," the letter said.

It added that the council was "offering to make a contribution of £65 per air brick towards removal and replacement with a standard air brick, or the installation of an alternative flood protection product".

Image caption Surrey County Council wrote to residents living in Chertsey

Zane's parents, Kye Gbangbola and Nicole Lawler, have demanded an independent public inquiry into their claim their son was killed by a hydrogen cyanide gas leak from the former landfill site.

Mr Gbangbola, who was paralysed from the waist down in the same incident in which Zane died, said the council's letter raised concerns that "migrating landfill gases" could build up beneath nearby properties.

"This is essentially what we've been saying all along," he said.

"The letter came after Zane's inquest and of course now it's quite clear that what we've been saying has been a problem from the outset."

Image caption Kye Gbangbola was paralysed in the same incident in which Zane died

In response, Surrey County Council said in a statement: "The Environment Agency brought to our attention that self-closing air bricks may not be suitable for a limited number of properties.

"As a precautionary measure we wrote to affected homeowners with this information and offered to help them with the cost of replacing this product."

Spelthorne Borough Council, whose area includes Chertsey, added that it related to potential risks from landfill in general and not specifically to the site in Chertsey.

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