‘Nose bleeds brought on by street’s toxic fumes forced us out’
PEOPLE living in homes allegedly blighted by “exceptionally” high levels of toxic fumes have launched legal action against their landlord.
The test case could potentially lead to tens of thousands of pounds paid out in compensation, lawyers have said.
But first, the 43 families in and around Watling Street in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, want the courts to order remediation action to remove the pollutants from the area.
The test case centres around Angela and Robert McManus, who have a four-year-old daughter Sophie, and who moved from the area a year ago after becoming increasingly concerned about their health.
“It was just terrible. I was getting nose bleeds, headaches and felt nauseous all the time,” Ms McManus, 41, said.
“I was on the estate for ten years, but it was probably 2004 when I started to feel there was something wrong.”
Collins Solicitors says that air testing at 25 properties in the area, in June and July 2011, found levels of toxic material in the air inside homes were far higher than acceptable standards set by the World Health Organisation.
The materials found include trichloroethylene, tetrachloroethylene, and polychlorinated biphenols, and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, Collins said.
From the 1940s until the 1970s, the site was used by industrial plants. In the 1990s, City Link Development Com- pany applied for planning permission to build homes, with work starting in 1998.
Collins claims that North Lanarkshire Council included a requirement that remediation should take place first, but City Link failed to carry it out, and the local authority failed in its duty to ensure it was done.
While this legal action is against Lanarkshire Housing Association (LHA), landlord to many of the families, the solicitors say further proceedings could also be brought against the council and developer.
Des Collins, senior partner in Collins Solicitors, warned it is not just the levels of toxic materials that causes concern, but also the mix. “The count is exceptionally high and exceptionally dangerous,” he said.
“What we have got to look at is the synergy – the number of chemicals involved.
“Once you mix them all together, that mix could be much more dangerous than you can even imagine.”
He added: “What we expect is the land is remediated properly.
“We are representing 43 families – about 130 people – but we expect a lot more, about two to three times that number.”
The amount of compensation paid out will depend on whether anyone has suffered permanent injuries, he said.
THE chemicals allegedly found in Motherwell can be damaging to the nervous system, causing cognitive problems, such as memory loss and tiredness.
They are more dangerous when concentrated indoors. Outside, they disperse into the atmosphere.
The chemical compound trichloroethylene is commonly used as an industrial solvent.
It is a clear, non-flammable liquid that
has a sweet smell.
Tetrachloroethylene is a chlorocarbon, which is widely used for dry cleaning of fabrics. It dissolves fats from the skin, which can result in irritations, and has been linked to Parkinson’s disease, although more research is needed to confirm the connection.
Concerns have been raised about the toxic effects of polychlorinated biphenols, which have been linked to cancer and developmental disorders.
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