Health officials have refused to rescind advice to people living in and around Salisbury not to pick up litter as fears persist over the dangers posed by novichok poisonings more than three years ago.
Local leaders have demanded that residents of rural areas surrounding the city be allowed to resume garbage collection so that they can clean up the areas. But Public Health England said they couldn’t be sure it was safe. “As a precaution, PHE continues to advise the public not to pick up any items. The advice remains “if you haven’t let it down, don’t take it,” a spokeswoman said.
Steve Milton, Clerk of Alderbury Parish Council, said: “The common feeling in the village is that there is minimal risk. We are about five or six miles from Salisbury. While authorities may consider maintaining restrictions in Salisbury and Amesbury, where the poisonings took place, there appears to be no evidence of contamination here.
Health officials believe the likelihood of such contamination is low, but they are concerned about the consequences of anyone picking up potentially contaminated waste.
Two members of the public were known to be affected by the Novichok poison targeting former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in March 2018. Dawn Sturgess died after tasting what she thought was a scent he Charlie Rowley had given. who survived the poison.
Public Health England said novichok dissolves on contact with water but can last a long time in a sealed container.
Richard Britton, the advisor for Alderbury and Whiteparish, Wiltshire Council, told the BBC: “After three years you would think PHE would have taken its action and reconsidered its advice. After leaving it for so long, I think they owe it to the residents to sort it out very quickly.