Health fears after lead pollution is found in gardens


Garth ApThomas

EIGHTEEN homes in Coedpoeth and Brymbo have been found to have lead contamination in their garden soil.

Wrexham Council has said the situation could potentially be harmful to health and a plan is being drawn up which could see the contaminated earth being removed.

There are 17 properties affected in Coedpoeth and one in Brymbo. The roads involved are Smelt Road, Smelt Lane and Minera Road.

The details have been revealed in a Freedom of Information request to the Leader.

Last year soil sampling tests were being carried out by Wrexham Council in Coedpoeth and Brymbo – two former lead mining areas.

The FOI response says: “The elevated concentrations of lead could be potentially harmful, therefore the precautionary approach is to carry out remediation so as to prevent any impact on health.

“The soil has elevated lead concentrations present and as a result remedial works are necessary to ensure soils within the garden areas are suitable.

“Living on contaminated soils does not automatically mean the chemicals in the soil will affect health.

“Even if land does have raised levels of chemicals this does not necessarily mean the people living on this land will have been exposed to harmful amounts of the chemicals present.

“The council has suggested residents follow precautionary actions to limit the potential for exposure until the remedial works have been undertaken.

“Wrexham Council does not have concerns over the safety of the general public. All of the people potentially at risk - the residents in affected properties - have been given advice regarding health protection.”

Wrexham Council says the cost of the work to be carried out isn’t known at the moment. 

The local authority will pay for the majority of costs involved although a contribution from the owners of the affected properties may be required. It hasn’t been decided who will carry the work out.

All together 29 properties were assessed along with an area of public open space- including footpaths - and an area of privately owned woodland.

The details of the remedial work which is needed have not been finalised. However the FOI response says: “It will generally comprise removal of existing soils and replacement with clean soils, or keeping existing soils in situ and covering with clean soils, or a combination of both.”

Smelt Lane resident Anthony Tustain, 69,  said: “When I first heard about this matter I was surprised.
“It has been going on for about a year and needs to be resolved as quickly as possible.

“I don’t think there is a health issue. I have been here for 13 years and I haven’t caught a cold.
“Residents should not have to pay for any remedial work. It has to be sorted out.”

In August last year the Leader reported doctors had been warned residents could show signs of lead poisoning after elevated levels were found in gardens. 

The alert came after soil sampling carried out by Wrexham Council in Coedpoeth and Brymbo.

The former lead smelters in the two villages ceased operation in the mid to late 1800s but some ground contamination could be left on the land.

In a letter sent to local GPs Dr Judy Hart, consultant in communicable disease control at Public Health Wales, said: “Some of your patients, who live in houses built on former lead smelting sites in Coedpoeth and Brymbo may present with health concerns related to the recent soil sampling results which have shown elevated levels of lead.”

A statement from Wrexham Council said: “We have a statutory duty to identify land that may be contaminated from past industrial activities. Every local authority in the UK has the same duty.

“The council has announced it has undertaken contamination assessment works on two former lead smelters in Wrexham County Borough.

“It can be the case with old industries that some ground contamination is left on the land.

“We are required to assess it and establish whether it’s unacceptable and to see if remedial works need to be undertaken.

“The council is continuing to work with the residents concerned to resolve any issues identified.” 

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