More chromium is polluting the atmosphere in the south east of Glasgow every day. Redevelopment projects are uncovering former chemical dumps and the resulting contamination is leaving residents feeling ‘bewildered and afraid‘. Thirteen sites have now been officially identified as former dumping grounds for Whites‘ Chemical Works over a period spanning 1937 to 1967. With official records missing. it is feared this is only the tip ofthe iceberg. One former driver with the company has stated that he dumped sixty tons a day for six years.
The chromium lay undetected until ;
work on a nursing home started in Overtoun Road. Rutherglen. Excavation revealed the presence of over 200 times the acceptable amount ofchromium dust in the soil.
An area twice the size of a tennis court has been sealed off and the hunt for other sites in the area has begun. with Dr Harry Duncan of the Environmental Chemistry Department at Glasgow" University brought in to advise. "I‘here‘s the feeeling in some quarters.‘ says Dr Duncan. ‘that ifyou put a little covering on chromium. it‘ll be all right. That's naive. Unless it‘s properly dealt with. prolonged contact with chromium dust causes ulcers. corroded nasal passages and finally cancer.‘
The official report by the Department of Public Health in January points out that chromium is only dangerous once exposed. It found: ’no evidence of adverse effects on the health of people living in areas ofproven and suspected contamination.‘
But many residents see things differently. ’Not long after the chromium was found. I developed asthma.‘ says Pauline Rodgers. from Cambuslang. ‘l was pregnant at the time. My daughter. Samantha. was born asthmatic. The report ignores the evidence that many people in this area have fallen sick.‘
Tommy McAvoy. MP for Glasgow Rutherglen. told The List that he has raised the issue with Scottish
Secretary. Ian Lang. but received. ‘a very dry answer‘ with the promise of only £70.()()() when over £1 million was needed for the treatment of contaminated sites.
Mr McAvoy is typical of a generation growing up in the vicinity of White‘s before the dangers of its dumping practices. then legal. were discovered. ’My father. brother and cousins all worked there. Many of the workers later developed
‘All of us local kids also used to play in the river behind White’s. I wish we hadn’t.’ Tommy McAvoy MP.
breathing problems. All ofus local kids also used to play in the river behind White‘s. I wish we hadn‘t.‘ he reflected.
Last week Dundee University. Viridian Bioprocessing and British Nuclear Fuels put forward proposals to make all the contaminated areas safe. Lanark Development Agency would need to foot much of the seven-figure bill for this bleaching process but it currently has extensive commitments to the Ravenscraig Development Project.
In the meantime. only two ofthe sites have been treated and no health report has covered Carmyle. where extensive amounts ofchromium have been uncovered while the M74 extension has been built.
Moira Mohan from Carmyle commented: ‘This motorway is to run just behind St Joachim‘s Primary. Since work started. my seven-year-old son and six others out of a class ofeighteen have been diagnosed as having asthma. Many of us are disillusioned by how slowly the politicians are moving on our behalf.‘
The prOposed new stadium for Celtic F.C. in Cambuslang is one project eagerly awaiting the outcome of a site survey. At the earliest the £50 million stadium i could be ready for the 1995/6 season. ; but the discovery ofchromium might } mean this second Paradise is lost.
: (Michael Paterson)
Police react to city violence
On the night of Friday 12 June, 100 policemen took to the streets of Glasgow in an effort to curb a growing
: wave of sickening violence involving
home-made weapons. Most incidents
5 have occurred around the times when
pubs and night clubs are closing. Superintendent lain Wishart of ’A' Division told The List that the police
presence seemed to have had the desired effect on public behaviour. There were 35 arrests on the night in question, substantially less than average and only ten were from violence-related crimes.
However, a south side golf club, which was the scene of a disturbance the weekend before, when one member was kicked while on the ground and others were threatened at knifepoint by a gang of eight youths, has been told that there are not enough policemen avaliable to provide a regular patrol around its course. The club has since had to hire a private security firm at members’ expense to provide guards up until 10pm. (M P)
_ Rector’s role
A recent meeting of Edinburgh University’s court, its ruling body, has proposed changes to the law that gives the rector statutory right of chairmanship. The move would restrict the election of chairperson to the lay membership of the court, casting aside the rector’s historic role as the democratically elected chair. Al the moment, the rector is elected for a three-year term by all students, academic and non-academic staff. The proposal, which would also affect Scotland’s three other ancient
Donnie Munro, rector of Edinburgh University
universities— Glasgow, St Andrews and Aberdeen — has already been criticised as a backdoor attempt to place a more bureaucratic figure in one of the university’s most influential positions. (Alan Morrison)
_ Lift and run
While summer madness has manifested itself in more serious ways in the centre of Glasgow, a different product of juvenile boredom has been witnessed in the tranquil, affluent suburb of Newton Mearns.
Gangs of between twelve and fifteen youths have been involved in what has become known as a ‘Lift and Run’. The process, described as ’the urban motorist’s nightmare', involves lifting up parked cars and turning them so that they sit across the road, thereby rendering cul-de-sacs inaccessible. However, one insidertold The List that the groups have became bored with this routine, and so recent
developments have been much more dastardly.
The latest victims have been people who leave theirvehicle in a driveway. The gangs sneak in under cover of darkness and turn the car through 90 degrees so that the only route back to the street involves a thirteen point turn which leaves the unhappy driver’s lawn and flowerbeds looking freshly ploughed.
A spokesman at Giffnock police station said that none of these incidents had yet been reported to the police. A spokesman for the Procurator Fiscal added that although the ‘Lift and Run’ seemed to be a criminal offence, albeit a minor one, it was impossible to speculate what charges could be made against any of the participants until such time as a case came to court. (MP)
I Fringe Sunday: One ofScotland‘s largest outdoor events has been saved thanks to a last minute £9000 rescue package put forward by Lothian Regional Council. The future ofFringe Sunday had been threatened when sole sponsor The Observer withdrew its backing (The List 174), but last week the council‘s general purposes committee approved the rescue deal, allowing the event to go ahead as planned on 23 August in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park.
I Asbestos Deaths: Labour MP Brian Wilson is expected to be given parliamentary time to introduce a
bill that will allow claims for full compensation to live on after the death of the claimant. An anomaly in Scots law has hit families of Scots suffering from asbestos-related illnesses (The List 168), many of whom have died before their claim had made it through the court system.
I Open Returns: The Lisr’s Open page has made a triumphant return, with many ofthe events. meetings and rallies that were detailed on the Agenda pages now listed under Open. For full details, see page 42.