Families evacuate homes over carbon dioxide levels

Residents Brian Law and his partner Sharon Dalgleish. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Residents Brian Law and his partner Sharon Dalgleish. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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FAMILIES have been evacuated from a street of newly-built homes after tests found dangerous levels of carbon dioxide.

Five households have already been moved out of their council homes in Newbyres Crescent, Gorebridge, with dozens more awaiting the results of tests to find out if they will have to leave. There are even fears the whole street, built five years ago, could be condemned.

It comes after monitoring was introduced last year following an incident which led to six people being rushed to hospital with suspected carbon dioxide poisoning. Experts are still working to identify the cause of the build-up.

Around 50 families in the street, where residents have been complaining of nausea and sickness, have already been contacted by Midlothian Council to have air quality monitors fitted.

And despite the council saying it has no indication other properties are affected, the remaining families fear they could be moved out at short notice.

Martina Power, 28, who lives with her husband, William, 29, and their three children Shannon, eight, Rihanna, six, and Tulisa, two, said: “We love this street.

“Everyone moved in at the same time, so there’s a great sense of community, but with five houses already boarded up we’re all scared it’ll soon be a ghost town.

“The council told us last week that our house is OK, but we’re still waiting on the results of the official tests. They say residents might get their results later this week, but that it also might be next week. We’re living in limbo and the children have been very upset, and it’s not helped by the fact we wake up every morning feeling like we’ve got flu, and lots of our neighbours have reported the same symptoms.”

Brian Law and his partner, Sharon Dalgleish, both 43, were among the first to be forced to abandon their homes after six of their neighbours were rushed to hospital in September last year.

The last families to be evacuated left on Friday. Ms Dalgleish, whose has two children, Nathan, 19, and Chloe, 15, said the family had noticed headaches, nausea and other flu-like symptoms in the previous weeks.

“Brian was actually off work because of it. The night the neighbours were taken to hospital I noticed our cat Katie collapsed at the bottom of the stairs. I was trying to wake her when firefighters started banging on the door, telling us they needed to check the house immediately because there might be a carbon monoxide leak.”

After the house was checked the family were told they could return to the property, but the following week officials carried out tests and said they needed to be evacuated. The family was moved to a B&B that night.

While the cause of the gas is yet to be confirmed, residents spoke of rumours that the problem could be in the foundations of the street.

Ms Dalgleish said: “We were told it could be an issue with the gas membrane, which is laid under housing to prevent things like carbon dioxide coming through from the earth, but no-one knows.”

A spokesman for Midlothian Council apologised to residents and stressed that safety was its number one priority.

“We’re working with experts to establish what further steps we should take, both in terms of definitively establishing the cause and in resolving the situation. There is no indication that further houses in the area are affected and we are continuing to monitor the situation.

“We have provided accommodation and will continue to do so where needed.”