Homes near Grenfell Tower site infected with potentially toxic chemicals, MPs warn

'It is astonishing that, nearly two years after the fire at Grenfell, there are still questions to be asked about a clean-up'

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Wednesday 22 May 2019 12:20 BST
‘There is a stench of complacency’ MP Sarah Jones asks PM for Grenfell update

Homes near the Grenfell Tower site are infected with potentially toxic chemicals, MPs are warning, in a letter demanding action from local council chiefs.

Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council is under fire for failing to carry out a deep clean of ventilation systems in homes around the disaster site.

The Commons environmental audit committee has stepped in, after hearing evidence that scientists have discovered the hazardous material.

“It is astonishing that nearly two years after the fire at Grenfell, there are still questions to be asked about a clean-up to deal with the threat of contamination from toxic chemicals,” said Mary Creagh, the committee’s chairwoman.

The warning comes almost two years after the blaze that killed 72 people and criticism that the government has “done nothing” since to address the concerns of local residents.

Ms Creagh added: “Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council must provide answers to evidence, discovered by scientists, of hazardous material in homes around the Grenfell site.

“People whose lives have been blighted by the tragic events of that night should not be kept waiting for those answers”

The Labour MP said her committee had been told that fire debris, such as charred insulation, had been found inside nearby flats.

She pointed out that neighbouring Hammersmith and Fulham Council was testing soil samples, adding: “We want to know why Kensington and Chelsea is not taking action.”

But the council hit back, insisting “testing and sampling is underway” and that experts believed “the risk remains low”.

It also said the testing programme for the Grenfell site was led by the housing and local government department, in collaboration with and the government chief scientific advisor.

“The government and Public Health England have assured us that they believe the risk remains low,” said Elizabeth Campbell, the leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council

“Testing and sampling is underway. We are told that scientists will need time to analyse results and develop a programme that is both comprehensive and gives the community the necessary reassurances.”

Ms Campbell urged “anyone who is concerned to speak to their GP straightaway” to “arrange for enhanced health checks to be carried out”.

Kensington council has been repeatedly criticised for its handling of the Grenfell disaster, including for a “painfully slow” rehousing of residents.

At Christmas, it was revealed that almost 100 families made homeless were without a home of their own – 18 months on from the tragedy.

There were 96 households stuck living in temporary flats, hotels, serviced apartments or staying with friends, according to the authority’s own figures.

The total number left without a permanent home included 36 households from Grenfell, and another 60 households evacuated from the wider Lancaster West estate

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in