First Posted: 11 Mar 2006 07:23 pm
LETHAL ACID ON SOCCER PITCHES
Tamworth Herald - 21 February 2006
Corrosive acid that eats through skin, irreversibly damages bones and can necessitate limb amputation is believed to have contaminated pitches used by thousands of amateur footballers in Tamworth.
The health scare came to light in a report made by a Tamworth Borough Council Environmental Health Officer on the state of two of the Anker Valley football pitches in Amington.
"I'm at a loss to understand why the council hasn't put signs up or fenced this land off if one of its own officers has highlighted the dangers," said Tim Holmes, fixtures secretary for the Tamworth Sunday League.
"You can't take chances with something like this."
The risks are believed to have been highlighted to the council after a health inspector visited the pitches following instances of stolen cars being burned out on the grass.
In a subsequent report, senior officers were advised that at least 300mm of top soil needs to be removed from the affected pitches due to the possible presence of a synthetic rubber material widely used in the manufacture of cars, which when subjected to high temperatures such as burning, releases hydrofluoric acid.
This substance can appear as a 'black sticky mass' or a clear liquid which lies on top of the burned soil, and is 'extremely corrosive' and almost impossible to remove when it has come into contact with human tissue.
Symptoms are not immediate, there is no burning, but several hours later the exposed skin takes on a 'bleached' appearance, by which time, the acid has eaten away at the bone mass and the exposed area may need to be amputated.
Cllr Brian Beale, portfolio holder for regeneration and community development said: "The corrosive materials on the pitch are only where cars have been vandalised and burnt out.
"This part of the pitch does need to be excavated and replaced. The effected pitches are not in use and have not been since the incident.
"We do not intend to use the pitches concerned again this season and are considering a number of options designed to ensure that the incident is not repeated."
But Tim Holmes says the pitches need to be excavated immediately.
"The pitches adjacent to the affected ones will be in use this weekend. How are you supposed to stop kids running onto them if the council won't even put up warning signs? " he added.
Another pitch, known at Callis Cottage, which lies at the rear of Eringden in Stonydelph, is believed to have been contaminated with the acid since last November when a car was burned out there.
Play continued on the pitch, with young footballers unknowingly being allowed to run and skid across the blackened goal area, until the contamination came to light.
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