HUNDREDS of thousands of tonnes of toxic waste buried in east Glasgow are to be cleaned up in a regeneration project for a fraction of the original estimated cost.

The Shawfield area south of the Clyde was the site of J&J White's Chemical Works (later ACC Chrome and Chemicals) from the 1820s until the late 1960s. It was used as a dumping ground for hexavalent chromium, a carcinogenic substance long blamed by campaigners for the high rates of leukaemia among residents nearby.

Now urban regeneration company Clyde Gateway wants to make the site suitable for two million square feet of offices and industrial units – about half the total space it aims to develop in the east side of the city.

It is seeking a contractor to clean up the area using a chemical injection process that avoids the need to dig up the chromium.

It was originally thought the work would cost hundreds of millions of pounds, but Clyde Gateway now believes it will cost between £2.4 million and £4.8m. It is part of a £19m programme to make the site ready for development and build a bridge over the Clyde to link to the new Dalmarnock railway station.

Clyde Gateway spokesman Jim Clarke said of the chemical injection process: "It doesn't mean you can now put houses on [the land], but it's suitable for commercial and industrial requirements."

He said Clyde Gateway would probably put up the first building on the site, most likely for offices.

But some property specialists questioned whether this was the right strategy, pointing out that the west of Scotland already has a lot of office space that could not be let.

Clarke said Clyde Gateway was keeping an open mind on potential use: "If the market tells us the site would be ideal for industrial, that is what we will do."