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Warning as chemicals found in garden soil

Wolverhampton | News | Published:

Two streets in the Black Country were under investigation today after the ground was found to be contaminated with chemicals from a former gas works.

Two streets in the Black Country were under investigation today after the ground was found to be contaminated with chemicals from a former gas works.

Residents in Kemble Close and Brookthorpe Drive have been told not to eat vegetables grown in their gardens and always use gloves when weeding.

The homes were built on the site of the former Willenhall Town Gas Works, which shut in the 1960s and became a housing development a decade later. The investigation could take up to five years.

Heavy metals, tars, and a gas manufacturing by-product known as Blue Billy, which may pose a health risk if ingested, have been found 30cm below the surface.

Families have been told they cannot carry out extensions of their homes during the probe.

Noele Ellis, has lived in Kemble Close for six years.

"I do a lot of gardening and I used to grow tomatoes and strawberries, but I've stopped now because I'm worried about it," she said. "I have never been able to grow anything properly here, I have to grow stuff in pots."

Violet Lea, aged 58, who has lived in Kemble Close for 34 years, said: "It's not good for people who want to move or put up extensions."

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Today's news comes after 12 homes on a chemical-plagued Wolverhampton estate were declared contaminated with chemicals from a former textiles factory.

Gardens will be dug up at a dozen homes on the Farndale estate in Whitmore Reans after they were found to contain asbestos, mercury or lead. The discovery sparked a £1 million clean-up and a hunt for asbestos at hundreds of other homes, even forcing some to move house.

But residents in Willenhall were today told they are unlikely to suffer "serious disease" as they would have had to have ingested large amounts of the chemicals over many years.

Walsall Council pollution control manager John Roseblade said: "Officers are now exploring legally declaring the land as contaminated which is the initial step in ensuring it is cleaned up to an acceptable standard.

"Staff have taken advice from NHS Walsall and the Health Protection Agency and must stress that there is no immediate health risk." An advice line has been set up on 01922 653348.

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