Cyanide has been discovered in soil at the site of a 70-home development in Shoebury – with residents scared of the potential impact when it is unearthed.

Developer Taylor Wimpey has revealed that cyanide is present in the soil beneath the ground in the embankment area of the Cantel Medical Site, in Campfield Road, Shoebury.

Demolition work is currently taking place at the site ahead of construction beginning on the new homes.

Graffiti appeared on the wall of the building over the weekend warning of “cyanide gas” inside the warehouse, which is set to be demolished.

After residents raised concerns, Taylor Wimpy insisted there is no cyanide within the building. However, it has been found in the soil surrounding the development.

Peter Lovett, who raised concerns in the Shoebury Residents Association, said: “We knew that under planning there was this tree-felling situation, and then they came back with the cyanide in the embankment.

“We were concerned that certain cyanide gas was leaking, which could be lethal and cause someone serious injury, and I believed it was between them and the council.

“Now I know it is in the soil, it must be vegetation or if it is a gas, it will be released when they dig it up, which is so dangerous.

“Why are they allowing people on there? It is a hazardous place to go, and Taylor Wimpey have a duty of care to residents.

Taylor Wimpey have moved to calm residents’ concerns and has insisted it is following all guidelines surrounding hazardous material.

A Taylor Wimpey spokesperson said: “We would like to reassure people living near to our Campfield Road site that we will follow strict guidelines on the treatment of hazardous materials should any be discovered during the demolition and redevelopment work.

“There is no evidence to suggest that cyanide is present in the buildings undergoing demolition. The signs on the site hoarding are graffiti, which has been illegally painted.

“Our initial soil investigations suggest that cyanide may be present beneath the ground in the man-made bund at the north of the site.

“Further investigations will be carried out once the demolition work is complete. Should any contamination be found, we will work with the local authorities to carry out a safe and appropriate remediation programme.”