The transportation of toxic soil from a Birmingham estate built on a former landfill site has caused further contamination, a city MP has warned.
In a letter to Birmingham City Council, Steve McCabe (Lab Hall Green) called for an urgent clean-up of the contaminated land in Hall Green, where high traces of arsenic, cadmium, lead and nickel were found in the soil last year.
He also urged the local authority to make more of an attempt to monitor the affected site, which includes Graith Close, The Launde, Bach Mill Drive, Willson Croft and Priory Road. More than 70 houses are believed to be affected.
Since the council first admitted that the land posed a "significant possibility of significant harm to human health", Mr McCabe said his office had been inundated with calls from residents living on or near the toxic estate.
They have raised fears of the poisons in the topsoil being transported to other areas through council-sanctioned earthworks.
According to the residents, the council has granted planning permission for extensions and conservatories in the past. When these were built, it was necessary for the top layer of soil, effectively the contaminated layer, to be removed and discarded.
In the letter, Mr McCabe says: "I have been advised by certain residents that in at least two instances construction works on affected properties (construction that had been undertaken with full council planning permission) have resulted in the removal of top soil from the affected properties.
"What assurances can the council give that this top soil was appropriately disposed of and what monitoring of such works is the council endeavouring to undertake?
"I am also aware that certain geographical features in the area, such as a natural stream running along Priory Road, are causing concern to residents, who are unsure and have not been informed as to whether that could potentially spread the contamination further.
"Indeed, I ask what investigation the council has made into these geographical features and the potential for the contamination to spread?"
He said many of the residents were also angry with the council for failing to keep them informed of its progress in resolving the matter. It has not held a public meeting since its initial one in November 2004, when the problem emerged.
Residents from the Priory Mill Action Group handed a petition with more than 400 signatures to the council protesting over its perceived lack of progress.
They have previously been told by the authority that the decontamination process would only be given the goahead if the Government agreed to pay. If not, they would indefinitely have to follow precautions - including washing hands and face after contact with the soil and keeping children out of the garden - outlined by the Health Protection Agency.
Officials indicated a cleanup could take 18 months or longer in some cases and residents have complained their property prices have fallen because of the contamination.
Mr McCabe last night said: "How can it be that one year on, families in Birmingham are still being exposed to hazardous levels of poisons, with no indication as to when this nightmare will end?
"The council's approach throughout has been secretive, ill-considered and impossibly slow - an insulting and frankly dangerous combination leaving many residents frightened and confused."
A city council environmental health spokesman said: " Birmingham City Council recognises the difficulties faced by the owners of the affected properties.
"The council is working hard to assist these owner-occupiers with the liabilities they face under new legislation."