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Eight treated in hospital after poison gas fumes hit estate



EIGHT tenants living in a West Hampstead council estate have been treated in hospital after falling ill to a poisonous carbon monoxide leak in their homes.
A series of investigations were last night (Wednesday) under way to establish how residents on the Abbey Road estate were put in danger.
The inquiry is centring on a blocked flue on the roof of the 15-flat Exonbury block where repair work has recently been carried out. The leak was revealed when one tenant started feeling ill from the fumes and checked into hospital in the early hours of Tuesday. Residents in the neighbouring Bramshurst were also later affected.
Camden’s deputy housing director Phillip Colligan said last night there was “a sense of relief” that everybody who went to hospital had since returned home and were not suffering further side effects.
“They were shook up but they are OK,” he said. “It was clearly a traumatic experience for them. This was obviously a serious incident and we are being open out about our investigation.”
Mr Colligan said investigation findings would be made public. In a separate statement, the council confirmed it had checked the roof flues and ensured the affected flats were safe for people to return.
Liberal Democrat housing chief Councillor Chris Naylor said: “We urgently need to know how this serious incident happened. We are carrying out an investigation to establish the facts. We are very concerned about the families who were directly affected and pleased that they have returned safely from hospital.”
The Health and Safety Executive – a nationwide watchdog charged with checking and enforcing safety standards – are due to make a site inspection today (Thursday) after being called in by the council. Work on the estate has been suspended and council chiefs are checking all work currently being carried out by main contractors Apollo Group and its sub-contractors.
In a statement Apollo said: “Investigations are continuing to ascertain how the flue has become blocked and whether our roofing our safety working procedures have been contravened by the roofing company. A full inspection of all gas flues and boilers on the site has confirmed that no other properties are affected and all dwellings are safe.”
Tenant campaigners are concerned that safety standards on council sites are being undermined within a chain of contractors and sub-contractors.
Lindy Treasurer, chairwoman of the Hampstead District Monitoring Panel, said: “I think this is disgraceful. There has to be an independent person to monitor every step of the way, whose best interests are the residents and not the value of the job. It is Camden’s renewals department who are ultimately responsible for hiring that contractor.”

Sent: 27/03/2008


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