Why didn’t council tell us six years ago about contaminated veg?

GARDENERS in Calderdale have been eating home-grown vegetables contaminated with high levels of arsenic and lead.

And yet today, the Courier can reveal Calderdale Council were told of the poison menace SIX years ago.

A report was commissioned by Calderdale Council to consultant White Young Green in November 2005. They were asked to test soil at a number of places across the proposed Copley development site.

Their report lists 12 poisons including arsenic, lead and nickel found in the soil at the Milner Royd allotment site inSowerby Bridge. Arsenic was found at five times the limit, and lead and nickel at double the recommended level. Other poisons include hydro-carbons.

A risk assessment in the report say the effect to those who ingest vegetables would be moderate. It says while harm could arise “it is either relatively unlikely that any harm would be severe or if any harm were to occur it is more likely that the harm would be relatively mild”.

But the 50-page report says investigation is “normally required” to clarify risks and to determine liability.

Despite the report being commissioned by the council almost six years ago, it was only last month the 50 people who use the 28 allotments were told to stop eating their goods over worries about contamination.

The allotment group had asked Calderdale Council to test parsnips, kale, leek and two batches of sprouts. The shocking results found some of the sprouts had up to 190 times the recommended level of lead.

Allotment holder Rudie Holmes, 44, said the gardeners were shocked they had never been told about the findings.

“I think it was held back because of the development,” he said. “It’s deceiving and underhand,” he said. “We could have sorted it and cleaned it up by now.”

He said since he first started renting his allotment more than 30 other holders had been and gone.

“The possibility is that they have passed it on to other people. I don’t know the impact of lead poisoning and high metal are but we are still looking into that,” he said.

He said his two children had been eating goods from the land. “We don’t have enough information,” he said.

The allotments neighbour a former landfill site and are owned by Calderdale Council. The controversial development was given its first official green-light on Tuesday at a planning committee meeting where it was given planning permission.

Scrutiny panel members will meet today for the first time to discuss the allotment findings.

The Courier asked Calderdale Council whether investigations were carried out and who within the council had seen the 2005 report. We are still waiting for a response.