TOXIC contamination at the polluted former Ravenscraig Hospital site earmarked for large-scale social housing is worse than previously thought, the Tele can reveal.

Supplementary soil assessment data added to planning documents following the demolition of the buildings shows massive concentrations of lead far in excess of officially acceptable levels.

The additional chemical information was submitted to Inverclyde Council in November — eight months after councillors controversially approved plans to build 198 new homes on the site.

A lead reading of 4,600 milligrams per kilogram [mg/kg] has been recorded at the area of the former Dunrod and Corlic buildings, which were active work areas when the hospital was operational.

According to officially recognised generic assessment criteria [GAC] which is used to measure risk to human health, acceptable lead concentrations have been set at a maximum of 200mg/kg.

A total of 36 lead exceedances in the Dunrod/Corlic area is contained within the supplementary data with other high concentrations found to be 3,500, 3,000, 1,600 and 1,200 mg/kg.

Alan Cumming, a campaigner against the proposed development, said: "The results show that things are worse than was thought and throws further doubt on the viability of this site for any purpose — and certainly not housing.

"The council should recall this application immediately, because there can be no doubt now that this site is a public nuisance."

Mr Cumming added: "Not involving the public from the get-go is doomed to failure and is also a gross waste of public money."

Other dangerous and cancer-causing substances found within confirmed 'multiple exceedances' of pollutants are asbestos, cadmium, mercury and arsenic.

One councillor, Colin Jackson, who voted in favour of the development when it was approved by five votes to four in a knife-edge determination last March, has since declared that he would now vote against the plans.

Last month Chris McEleny — leader of the council's SNP group — issued a demand for a 'full review' of the planning application.

Councillor McEleny said: "I believe that public confidence is no longer there to support this development going forward."

Registered social landlord Link Group Ltd bought the sprawling 83-acre site for £1 and is primed to receive £15m of public money for developing it.

Link has submitted a remediation plan to the council for approval which proposes not to remove any of the pollutants and use 'capping' measures to protect people from them.

Professor Andrew Watterson, a globally respected expert on contaminated land, says there is no safe level for carcinogens and that capping materials will ultimately fail.

A spokesman for Inverclyde Council said: "There is nothing unusual about the former Ravenscraig Hospital site.

"It is very similar to many other brownfield sites which have successfully been brought back into use using exactly the same techniques as those that are being proposed in the remediation plan submitted by Link Housing Association.

"The most important point, in terms of contaminated land is that, if pollution is present, it can only be harmful if there is some way for the people using the site to come into contact with it. If there is no way for the people to come into contact with the pollution, then it cannot cause them any harm."