NEWPORT residents and environmental groups have called on the city council to immediately halt building work on a new school.

Preparation work began earlier this year on the site of the new Glan Usk Primary.

The school, which this year won a £9.7m funding deal from the Assembly, is due to open in 2010 and will replace the crumbling Durham Road Schools.

The project was dogged with delays and controversy over the decision to use land at the Glebelands where chemicals, including PCBs, were once dumped.

Now an alliance of Glebelands Action Group (GAG), Newport and Chepstow branches of Friends of the Earth and others have called for the work to stop while an independent environmental assessment is carried out.

However, a council spokesman said independent experts White Young Green Environmental were on site at all times during excavation and validation monitoring all materials removed from the ground.

They were ensuring good practice was being followed at all times, including for the storage and removal of materials during this vital stage of the project.

Steve Rawlings, of Chepstow Friends of the Earth, alleged toxic material was being stored on the Glebelands in a "dangerous and insecure manner".

John Martin, chairman of the GAG, said: “I want to know what needs to be done to protect our children."

Dave Yates, Newport Friends of the Earth, added there was a "significant risk" that the proximity of the River Usk would cause pollutants to leach from the landfill into the river.

The council spokesman said the call for an independent environmental assessment was addressed at the planning stage in 2003/04 and the council's "robust" remediation strategy was approved by relevant regulators.

Work was being carried out that was above and beyond those requirements.

Monitoring had shown there was no suggestion of any harmful materials entering the River Usk or becoming air borne.