HEALTH chiefs are under pressure to reveal exactly what they knew about toxic contamination at the former Ravenscraig Hospital before selling it for £1 in a contentious deal for large scale social housing.

Questions about the role played by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and others, during and after the bargain basement agreement — which involved the Scottish Government — are now being asked by concerned politicians.

The interventions come after the Telegraph told how cancer-causing chemicals have been discovered at the sprawling 83-acre site.

Fears have also been expressed that former patients and medical staff may have been exposed to harmful substances.

MSPs Stuart McMillan and Jamie Greene are demanding answers from NHS GGC and the chief executive of Inverclyde Council Aubrey Fawcett over the dangers posed by the existence of arsenic, asbestos, cadmium and mercury.

Meanwhile, MP Ronnie Cowan has declared the issue 'must be openly and honestly addressed' as he expressed 'reservations' over a proposal to erect a scheme of nearly 200 social homes on the contaminated land.

Mr McMillan MSP — who has expressed 'extreme concern' about 'multiple exceedances' of chemicals — confirmed: "I have written to NHS GGC bosses to find out what they knew about this contamination.

"Did they know about this before they sold the land and do they believe there is any chance former patients and staff could have been exposed to any dangerous substances for a prolonged period."

MP Mr Cowan saif: "If after further investigation the site is deemed unsuitable, I would expect the council to take account of that and act appropriately."

The Telegraph revealed last month how the site was snapped up for £1 by a private company social housing provider — after the contamination was discovered.

The Link Group Ltd — affiliated to Larkfield Housing Association — wants to demolish the listed ex-hospital building of 'regional importance' and construct 198 homes for social tenants.

Link, which stands to receive £14m following its £1 investment if the proposed development goes ahead, knew about the existence of the contamination when bosses completed the acquisition — because they commissioned a geological survey.

Excess levels of the potentially lethal chemicals were discovered as part of a ground probe by civil engineering firm, Fairhurst, which has urged 'vigilance' in case 'additional sources of gross contamination' are found.

Link Group bought the site from the Scottish Government on the same day the government had purchased it — also for £1 — from the health board.

MP Mr Cowan said: "If there are questions about contamination then these must be addressed openly and honestly and the local population should be informed."

Of the proposed demolition of the historic former hospital, Mr Cowan added: "It is regrettable that once again an historic building is being demolished. We do have a history of neglecting such buildings in Inverclyde until they become not fit for purpose and the only option left is demolition.

"Before any development of this particular site, its suitability should be thoroughly assessed. To the best of my knowledge the council is doing just that."

The MP added: "I have reservations about the suitability of the site in general and in-particular the additional strain that will be placed on the local road infrastructure."

His Holyrood counterpart Mr McMillan said: "I have also asked bosses at Link how they intend to proceed with this piece of land."

He stated: "I was extremely concerned to learn of the contamination. Before any work whatsoever starts here, much more investigation needs to be done to ensure it is 100 per cent safe.

"In addition, while I am fully supportive of new socially rented homes and affordable housing, I have still to be convinced that the traffic implications in this part of Greenock will be able to support an additional 198 homes."

Jamie Greene MSP said: "My position is that any development that takes place must ensure that the safety of residents in paramount.

"I will be writing to council chief executive Aubrey Fawcett asking that proper regard to safety is given the full consideration of the council before any decision is made."

NHS GGC says it believes there is no historical or ongoing danger at the site.

A health board spokeswoman said: "We wish to reassure Telegraph readers that while Ravenscraig Hospital was operational there was no risk to the health of patients or staff and there is still no risk to the public.

"In 2017 NHS GGC commissioned a full site investigation, before putting the site on the market. Ravenscraig, like many historical sites, was found to have sources of potential contamination but a risk assessment found these to be of moderate to low risk.

"This was also backed up by Inverclyde Council which concluded that it was 'not likely to present a significant risk to human health or the wider environment'."

The Telegraph has asked the board for a copy of their report and we were awaiting receipt of it as we went to press.

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said: "The redevelopment of redundant brownfield sites is well established in Inverclyde and indeed throughout Scotland.

"Where the previous use of land suggests there may be contamination this is fully investigated and proposals to remove or contain materials are required to address any public health concerns.

"These findings and recommendations are then considered in the assessment of the planning application and in the decision taken by the council."