FRESH pressure has been put on the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council to clean-up an area contaminated by cancer-causing chemicals which have turned a burn bright green.

Scottish Green Party leader Patrick Harvie has added his voice to that of SNP MP Alison Thewliss and Labour’s Rutherglen’s MP, Ged Killen in calling for fresh funds to be made available to decontaminate the J&J White Chemical factory in Shawfield, which shut in 1967.

Last month council officials fenced off the nearby Polmadie Burn in Oatlands after its waters showed signs of carrying the substance Chromium-VI, which has been linked to cancer.


For years locals have warned about the toxic legacy of the former chemical works, which has infected the stream before with dangerous run-off.

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But Clyde Gateway, the regeneration organisation who have been clearing up the site, has admitted it would take “tens of millions” to make it completely chemical-free - money the organisation simply does no have.

Glasgow Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “In an ideal world the company that polluted the site would be liable to pay for its restoration, however that seems unlikely after all these years.

“The Scottish Government and both councils must work together, along with Clyde Gateway, to clean up the affected area as quickly and comprehensively as possible.

“Obviously there are resource implications, but the cost of not acting, from both a health and an environmental perspective, would likely be even greater.”

Mr Harvie’s comments come ahead of a public meeting of the Oatlands Steering Group, where the matter is likely to be raised.

The group meets quarterly to discuss the re-development of the Oatlands scheme, a multi-million pound regeneration project which has been ongoing for more than a decade.

 Chromium-VI is a the poison which was made famous by the Hollywood film about Californian anti-pollution campaigner Erin Brockovich.

Often used as a catalyst in the chemical manufacturing industry, it is extremely harmful to humans and can cause illnesses such as lung cancer to people who are repeatedly exposed to it.

It has seeped into the water table from J&J White site, which churned out chemicals from the 1820s to the 1960s.


Work to restore the site is ongoing

Its toxicity was well-known. By the late 19th-century doctors were concerned when the factory’s workers started developing lung cancer and lesions in their flesh dubbed “chrome holes”.

READ MORE: Glasgow burn sealed off over dangerous levels of cancer-causing chromium

In May, contractors will start injecting chemicals into the ground that will turn chromium-VI – sometimes called hexavalent chromium – into safe chromium-III.

The bill for that will be £5m, but similar work across the whole 30 hectares could cost around £60m to complete.

Avant Homes, the company re-developing Oatlands, has said it did not know about the contamination until last month when the burn, which runs past a part of the Oatlands scheme dubbed Richmond Gate, changed colour.

A spokeswoman for the firm said: “We were first made aware of the potential presence of a contaminant in the burn by a local resident who contacted us on February 13 after noticing discolouration in the water.

“Following this, we were contacted by Glasgow City Council, which explained the situation and informed us the contaminant was hexavalent chromium.

“We had no prior knowledge of the presence of, or any potential risk of exposure to, hexavalent chromium near our Richmond Gate development."

However, emails sent to residents appeared to contradict this, indicating that Avant were aware of some for  of pollution at the site, as The Herald reported yesterday.

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Both Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government have said that plans are in place to remediate a portion of the land near the burn, and to limit the spread of Chromium-VI from the site.