(c) Sunday Post
Note: This is out of my comfort zone, so I welcome comment and correction.
A statement from Labour/Conservative North Lanarkshire Council insists:
Specialist doctors from the public health department of NHS Lanarkshire have confirmed that no incidence of cancer is linked to the schools. They have also confirmed that no other serious illness is connected to the schools or the site on which they are built.
We don’t get to see the evidence and the occurrence of bladder cancer in four teachers still rings alarm bells. One said:
I kept hearing the phrase ‘there is no significant risk to health’ – so what are four teachers with the same bladder cancer if they are not significant?
His confusion is not surprising. The school, Buchanan High in Coatbridge, opened in November 2012 on a site used by the former Gartsherrie Iron Works. Metal workers are known to have a higher incidence of bladder cancer due to exposure to polycystic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in their working environment. See these sources:
Also, at high risk for bladder cancer and death from the disease were those exposed to heavy metals, diesel and combustion products. People working around toxins called polycystic aromatic hydrocarbons were at heightened risk, the study found. People exposed to these potential carcinogens include metal workers.
Metal workers, machinists, transport equipment operators and miners are among the major occupations contributing to occupational bladder cancer in men in Western Europe. In this population one in 10 to one in 20 cancers of the bladder can be attributed to occupation.
Occupations in which PAH exposure is associated with an excess bladder cancer risk include painters, machinists, aluminium processing, other metal workers, workers in the textile industry, leather workers and shoemakers, printers, hairdressers and transport workers.
While there is no mention of PAHs risk in the text of the 10 ‘ground contamination risk assessment’ reports for NLC they do appear near the bottom and middle of this diagram, just below/in contact with, a ‘moderately permeable aquifer’ (underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock) from ‘Ground contamination detailed quantitative risk assessment report part 1’:
PAHs are also referred to 4 times in Ground contamination detailed quantitative risk assessment report part 2 sampling:
WSPE has reviewed the analytical results in the appendices and approximates actual sampling delivery as follows: – Soils: 57 samples submitted to laboratory, with 41 analysed for metals/inorganics, 36 for TPH, 41 for PAHs, and 3 for VOCs. (page 3)
Leachates: 17 soil samples analysed for leachable metals/inorganics and PAHs, 15 analysed for TPH. (page 3)
Groundwater: 10 samples all analysed for metals/inorganics, PAHs, and TPH. (page 3)
However, the report’s findings do not mention PAHs again and conclude:
In assessing risks to human health, URS considered that the majority of the soil exceedances occurred at depths greater than 1m in depth and were thus too deep to allow direct contact/ingestion and not a risk for the final development. For those exceedances noted within 1m of surface (arsenic, lead, nickel, and benzo(a)pyrene), URS reported that these were marginal exceedances, and note that the screening values used (representing residential end-use) are most likely over-conservative for school use. URS reports that all exceedances of residential screening values are less than screening values representing a commercial/industrial end-use. Direct contact from groundwater is not expected due to recorded depths.
So, I’m reading this to mean they did find PAHs but that they were, in their opinion, too deep to matter even though they were just under moving water?
Note: Labour has been in control of North Lanarkshire council or its equivalent since time began.
Note: The contractor Balfour Beatty is not accused here of any corrupt practice but has been elsewhere: