THE site of a massive new housing estate is contaminated from old RAF fuel storage tanks and possibly asbestos, an investigation has found.

Developers planning to build new houses at Heyford Park near Bicester made the discoveries while testing the safety of the soil.

The estate is a complete redevelopment of the former RAF/USAF Upper Heyford airbase which was granted permission by Cherwell District Council back in 2012.

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Because of the site's history, Dorchester Heyford Park Group and Bovis Homes had to carry out 'demolition, remediation and preparatory earthworks' to prepare areas for houses to be built.

An investigation involving a series of excavations at the grounds found a number of problems.

It found that 'the key identified potential contamination hotspots in the wider site were fuel hydrocarbons associated with bulk underground fuel storage tanks'.

There was also 'pervasive contamination by metals/metalloids... and the potential for asbestos in pipe laggings and gaskets'.

In works that took place from March to July last year, several items of suspected unexploded ordnance (UXO) were also found which were later confirmed to be practice bombs.

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The latest phase of remediation works, which took place in June this year, confirmed an additional 285 square metres of soil potentially impacted by man-made hydrocarbon chemicals above the bedrock.

To resolve this, 'grossly impacted soils' were removed for off-site conservation treatment or disposal.

Soils overlying the hydrocarbon hotspot that did not display contamination indicators have been stripped, sampled and tested for hydrocarbon analysis.

But all of the samples were classed as safe and the soils have therefore been replaced into the excavation.

The Dorchester Group plans to build more than 700 homes at the former RAF site as well as community facilities.

It is also planning a wide range of commercial property with more than 1,300,000 square feet of commercial accommodation.

Cherwell planning officers are to assess the excavation work.