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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 September, 2003, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Methane seeps into tenant's home
gas detector
Tests found methane present in Mr Harrison's house
A council tenant has been forced to sleep in a caravan in the garden of his County Durham home because methane is seeping into the house.

Tests prove the gas is present in the semi-detached property belonging to 70-year-old Ken Harrison, who lives in Sately, near Durham.

But so far his landlords, Derwentside District Council, have been unable to rehouse him.

The authority says Mr Harrison is on a "priority waiting list" and will be offered a new home when a suitable one becomes available.

Dreading winter

Until then, Mr Harrison, who lives alone, spends every day with all his windows open and every night at the bottom of his garden in a borrowed caravan.

He said: "The gas affects my chest, my nose, my eyes and throat and it is not just me.

"When visitors arrive, after about 20 minutes they complain of the same symptoms.

"I am dreading the winter if I have to sleep in the caravan."

A test of Mr Harrison's home, carried out by independent analysts from Newcastle, found evidence of methane.

Prickly sensation

A report submitted to Derwentside Council by Ron Ottie, of Pattinson Scientific Services Limited, recommended Mr Harrison should be moved as soon as possible.

Mr Ottie also told the authority that when he carried out the tests on 3 July, he suffered dryness to his mouth and a "prickly sensation" in his throat.

It is thought the gas is coming from a former landfill site, on which some of the council's properties are built.

No other homes have been identified as having a problem.

A Derwentside District Council spokesman said the authority was aware that Mr Harrison was sleeping in a caravan at night.

He added that Mr Harrison was on a priority list to be rehoused.

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