London rail project faces centuries old anthrax threat

Officials have warned that an area in the city of London slated for tunneling as part of the cross-London Crossrail scheme could be a missing 16th century anthrax burial ground.

"We may very well have here at Number 10 Hayne St. the missing anthrax burial ground that has been lost for 488 years," Conservative Lord James told the BBC.

A decision on the purchase of 10 Hayne St., currently a parking lot, is expected to go ahead as planned despite the potential of the anthrax contaminated bodies.

"Crossrail understands that there is a very small possibility of buried human remains being encountered during the works at 10 Hayne Street," Lord Adonis said, the BBC has reported, though, he added, it is "highly unlikely that the works would release any anthrax spores or bacteria causing plague."

The bodies were buried there as a result of churches refusing to accept the bodies of 282 victims of anthrax outbreak that killed the entire population of Hayne St.

The threat of the release of anthrax at the site first first raised by Lord James when the Crossrail Bill was passed in 2009. A deep exploratory bore hole was dug in May 2009 that revealed human remains, though no trace of anthrax was found.

Anthrax spores are able to lie dormant for centuries, though if disturbed, they can spread through the air. Bubonic plague, which is also feared to be at the site, is also able survive in plague pits.

The Crossrail scheme is meant to link towns by 2017 to the west and east of London with Canary Wharf, the West End and Heathrow.