Cash for contaminated island clean up

The government is giving more than £300,000 to Gloucester City Council to help pay for the clean-up of contaminated soil on a River Severn island.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is making the grant after tests revealed six gardens and two mobile home sites on the island were contaminated with deadly toxins, the Gloucestershire Echo reports.

Elevated levels of lead and benzo-a-pyrene, a carcinogenic chemical found in cigarette smoke, were detected in the land, previously a site of heavy industry, including lime and brick works.

The contaminants were found during Environment Agency flood defence work in 2006.

Gloucester City Council won funding from DEFRA to investigate the extent of the contamination and issue advice on the health risks.

The investigations revealed the area had a history of potentially contaminative activities, including brick works, an iron foundry, boat building and waste disposal.

The consultants, who carried out the investigations, completed in late 2007, confirmed widespread contamination across the island – formed where the Severn splits into two channels.

But, in most places the level was deemed “not significant”.

As the controlling authority the council has a legal duty to ensure any contaminated land is cleaned up.

It is believed the contamination stemmed from buried ash and clinker dumped in the area more than 50 years ago.

The council has briefed residents affected on the status of their land.

Now, DEFRA has announced funding to help pay for the clean-up operation following a successful bid for help from the council.

In a letter to residents last August, the council sought to reassure residents about any potential risks saying: “The council does not consider there are any immediate or urgent risks to health arising from the condition of land at Alney Island, and is undertaking this assessment and clean-up with the aim of reducing any long term risks.”

For more details about the contaminated land on Alney Island and Gloucester City Council investigations visit the council website.

David Gibbs

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