Environment

Toxic Waste Near Residential Areas

Sweden has a reputation for its clean air and water - and Stockholm is currently the European Union's first officially Green Capital.

But what is lurking underneath?

Arsenic, mercury, lead, dioxins, Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH), and other carcinogenic and poisonous substances, according to an investigation by the Swedish Television news programme, Rapport.

The estimated bill for the clean up is in the region of 9 billion kronor or 1.2 billion dollars.

In total Sweden has an estimated 80,000 so-called poisoned areas - often previously industrial zones, where carcinogenic and toxic waste still lies in the ground and needs to be removed.

One badly affected area, Valdermarvik, in eastern Sweden, is a popular tourist destination, yet the fish in the area have dangerously high levels of mercury. Hundreds of tonnes of toxic sediment from an old leather factory need to be dug up and shipped out of the area.

The worst affected area of the country is Västernorrland county, in the north which is facing a clean up operation costing more than a billion kronor.

Inger Johansson, an expert at the Swedish Environmental Protection agency says that there can be a health risk from the toxic areas but that most of the areas have now been found and work is underway to clean them up.