Twelve houses on a chemical-plagued Wolverhampton estate have been declared contaminated – sparking an investigation for asbestos at hundreds of other homes.
Gardens will be dug up at a dozen houses on the Farndale estate in Whitmore Reans after it was discovered they are contaminated with asbestos, mercury or lead.
Council bosses today insisted they believed the remediation of chemicals from gardens could be carried out without any homes having to be demolished.
But gardens will be dug up and contaminated soil replaced to remove the hazard, which the authority claims could cost more than £1 million.
The discovery means a further 270 homes will now also be investigated on the estate as part of a £500,000 year-long testing programme.
It comes just weeks after council bosses announced four empty homes in Welbury Gardens on the estate, built on the former Courtaulds textiles factory, would have to be demolished following the discovery of carbon disulphide, which can cause breathing difficulties and damage the nervous system.
Last year, 12 families were paid around £130,000 to leave their homes following the discovery of carbon disulphide.
Just weeks after they moved out, Akzo Nobel, the firm behind the current remediation site, announced that it thought it was possible to extract the chemicals without bulldozing houses. More than 800 letters have now gone out to residents living on the estate about the latest investigation.
Nick Edwards, chief regulatory services officer at Wolverhampton City Council, said today: “The investigation will be similar to the one conducted for carbon disulphide. Samples will be taken from gardens and once we have the results of the complete investigation, we will let the residents know what we have found.
“There is no indication at all that any families will have to move out or any homes be demolished because of the contamination. We can never say never but the contamination is in the soil and so there would not be any excavations under the homes.” Post Office manager Michelle Whitehead has been told there is asbestos in her garden.
The 36-year-old has lived in Roxby Gardens since 1995. “The council last tested my garden about a year ago and telephoned me yesterday to say I had asbestos,” said Miss Whitehead, who lives with her 16-year-old son Ben and has two rabbits, two guinea pigs and a tortoise as pets.
“My main concern is my animals as they run around and dig in the soil. The council is going to have to dig it all up. I thought they might just dig up the bits with the asbestos in but it is all going to have to go.
“They said there will be no damage to the structure of my house so that has put my mind at ease somewhat. It is going to be very disruptive though.”
courtesy of Asbestos News Update published by Abestos Support West Midlands November 2009