ENVIRONMENTAL investigators are checking rubble at the former Dale Farm traveller site for pollution.

Specialists called in by the Environment Agency yesterday began probing mounds left behind after Basildon Council cleared travellers from the site in last October’s £8million operation.

They are looking for exposed asbestos and other potentially-harmful substances which may have been buried on the site and uncovered by bailiffs’ bulldozers. If hazardous materials are found, the council could end up with another bill.

The specialists were called in after travellers’ campaigner Stuart Hardwick-Carruthers alerted the Government agency to the possibility pollutants from its previous use as a scrapyard might have been brought to the surface in the wake of the eviction. He said: “Just walking around the rubble, you can see there are bits of asbestos all over the place.

“Dust from the asbestos poses a risk to people living on the legal traveller site next door. There are also concerns there will be oil and petrol in the soil from when it was a scrapyard”

After the eviction, bailiffs piled up rubble banks on the former caravan pitches to stop families moving back.

The council has disputed pollution claims. Its Tory leader, Tony Ball , has also suggested any clean-up costs would have to be paid by the travellers, who still own the site.

Ray Bocking, of Nevendon Road, Wickford , who used to own the scrapyard, also denied there was any pollution.

He said: “The land was marshy before, and there was a lot of hardcore laid. It was council contractors that did it. “But I doubt there would be much asbestos in there. “There might be a small amount. There might be a few tyres in there.

“When you run a breaker’s yard, you don’t drain the oil, because you want the cars to weigh more. That way, you get more money for them.”

A report on the experts’ findings is expected in about six weeks.