PEOPLE who eat

mussels found near an old gasworks may be at risk of serious illness.

Those discovered near the

former Portslade plant in Shoreham Harbour have been found to contain high levels of contamination which could lead to

conditions including cancer.

Although the plant closed more

than 20 years ago,

tests have found the area is still contaminated.

Warning signs are now being put up on the advice of Government scientists.

Dr Angela Iversen, of East Sussex, Brighton and Hove Health Authority, said there should be no risk to swimmers or beach users.

But she urged people to avoid eating mussels from the


Experts from local councils and the Environment Agency found that mussels had high levels of polycyclic

aromatic hydrocarbons. High levels can cause long-term health problems including cancer.

Dr Iversen said: "The tests showed the contamination is confined to the mussels near the old gasworks, and these mussels should not be eaten."

PAHs were formed as part of the production of coal gas at the power plant, which was in use for more than a century.

Mike Denwood, Adur District

Council's environment head, said the problem was contained to the area around the plant.

He added: "High levels of pollutants were found in these mussels, but not in other mussels taken from Shoreham beach and the Adur estuary.

"Testing of crabs and lobsters along the coast between Hove and Shoreham beach did not show any signs of contamination and are safe to eat."

Government scientists advised local councils to put up signs today warning the

public not to eat the mussels.

Brighton and Hove Council's environment team manager Paul Jeffrey said: "We are confident this action will avoid any risk to the public and we will continue to monitor the contamination."

Experts believe that contamination is slowly being leached from the old gasworks site through the beach.

The area where contaminated mussels have been found covers about a mile of beach backing on to the harbour and to the west of Hove Lagoon.

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