To: Environment Agency, Spelthorne Borough Council, Prime Minister
CALL FOR AN INVESTIGATION AND INDEPENDENT PANEL INQUIRY INTO THE DEATH OF 7 YEAR OLD ZANE
Potential Risk Arising From Toxic Gas In Landfills
We are calling for a truthful public debate and investigation into the tragic death of 7 year old Zane Gbangbola, who died when hydrogen cyanide was found in his home as floodwater rose beneath.
Why is this important?
Zane died in his home on 8 February 2014, a day after his home in Chertsey was hit by severe floods. His parents Nicole and Kye were hospitalised in a critical condition.
Officials are investigating whether Zane’s death was caused by carbon monoxide poisoning. But family, friends and the fire services crew have highlighted that there is evidence to suggest the real cause was hydrogen cyanide, a toxic gas that can lurk in unregulated landfill, released from the ground by mixing with floodwater.
The fire and rescue team who attended the incident and monitored the air in the family home confirmed "25,000 parts per million of hydrogen cyanide" were present. Hydrogen cyanide was also found in the family's blood. It is understood that hydrogen cyanide can be released into the breathable atmosphere from flood water following a change in pressure or temperature. If this was the cause of Zane’s death, then clearly there are issues of public safety that require urgent attention.
After Zane and his family were taken to St.Peter’s hospital in Chertsey, the police and fire services evacuated nearby homes and a public health warning was issued for those in the area feeling unwell to seek urgent medical assistance. Seventeen other local residents and police officers were ambulanced to hospital, isolated in contamination areas and then tested and and observed.
Despite the reports that "very high levels of hydrogen cyanide" were found at the property, reports in the press suggested Zane’s death may have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning from pumps in the family home. The family have said that the only pumps which were on at the time were electric. The house is a rare all electric house with no gas supply and no capability of generating carbon monoxide. No carbon monoxide was found in the family home.
Also, it took Public Health England 14 weeks to confirm to the family that hydrogen cyanide was indeed found in their flooded house and amazingly, despite the immediate finding of hydrogen cyanide in the home, the pathologist was never told to test Zane’s blood for hydrogen cyanide.
However, as early as March, the family sent a report to the coroner suggesting excellent lines of enquiry including testing for hydrogen cyanide. They are still to confirm what actually killed Zane.
The family’s own investigations into the surrounding area have since revealed that a field 6 metres from their home that contains a lake and looks so idyllic, is actually contaminated land but this did not show in environmental searches. Zane’s parents bought the house in 2004, when an environmental report showed no land contamination.
However, subsequent reports for a neighbouring property in 2011, and for their own home, ordered by Zane’s parents last month, indicate contamination due to an old landfill site behind their home, now an infilled lake.
Both Mr Gbangbola, who still has to use a wheelchair following his illness, and Ms Lawler believe there is a chance that families in other homes may be at risk since restrictions on what could be dumped at landfill sites in the past were less stringent. Also, no notice was given to the home or business owners in the area that would have been affected by the reclassification to contaminated land.
In short, it appears that the very agencies here to protect us believe the truth will do more harm than good. Their focus is on the avoidance of national hysteria over the possible risk posed by old contaminated, undisclosed landfill sites throughout the UK. How many are there? Could you be living by one? Zane’s parents are deeply concerned that all possible causes of his death are not being investigated fully.
Nicole and Kye are bereaved parents who deserve to know what really happened to their son. Also, they are currently homeless, unable to return to their home and Kye is still in a wheelchair. They have been left ‘broken’ by the death of their son and frustrated by the lack of answers.
Mr Gbangbola said: “We really want to push and find answers because it is wrong that these risks can occur. Ideally this is something we would like to be able to highlight nationally. This deadly gas has come from somewhere, the authorities need to admit its presence, investigate its source and act to prevent more deaths and illness.” He said “We miss Zane every second of the day and all those who spent time with Zane commented that Zane was a truly remarkable boy. We would not want anyone else to experience this pain and burden of a living hell”.
Help us get the truth about Zane’s death. Join the campaign for a proper public debate to establish the truth and ensure a tragedy like this never happens again.
Press Coverage update
Officials knew FOUR years ago about toxic gas blamed for death of boy in Surrey floods: Environment Agency protected their own building...but didn't tell boy's family living right next door