The main thing that I have taken an interest in over the last week, has been the demolition and remediation work taking place at Ramsgate Gasworks, this is very important as there is an intention to put 100 dwellings on the site.
I am gathering historical information about the gasworks and any help with this would be much appreciated.
I got involved in this one because neither the gas company nor the demolition firm contacted TDCs contaminated land officer before the work commenced, as they had previously promised to do so, this made me concerned that the decontamination wasn’t being supervised in the proper way.
There are several aspects of this that concern me, one being that disturbing the site that contains some chemical nasties could mean that some of them come our way, the other day there was dust blowing from the site. I have since heard that the contaminated land officer has visited the site and that they are now damping down to prevent this from happening.
The part of the site where they are working is still uncategorised, I take this to mean that they don’t know what is there in the way of contaminants, putting on my science and engineering hat for a moment, Cyanide and Arsenic are two of the many unpleasant chemicals that would be likely to be there, not something that we want blowing over the town.
Another aspect is the long term implications could be for the people living in the 100 dwellings if the decontamination is not done properly, as some of the chemicals that would have worked down through the porous chalk under the site would give off vapours that would leak up through the ground, long term exposure to these would lead to health problems, including genetic ones.
There may also be drinking water contamination issues here, it is fairly close to an adit (underground horizontal tunnel) leading to The Lord of The Manor pumping station. This combined with the likelihood that the gasworks would have had a well to provide water needed for processing the gas, my concern here is that if it is not properly plugged it could provide a path for the nasties down to the water table.
One of the problems associated with these sites are the gas holders, the older ones consist of a brick lined pit filled with water with a metal gas tank without a bottom floating on top. As more gas is pumped into the tank it rises up floating on the water, the main problem is that a lot of chemical nasties accumulate in the water and that brick lined pits leak. The water carries the nasties down through the chalk below.
So far I have discovered that the gasworks has had six of these gasholders, since it was established in 1824.
When it first started the gasworks was on the other side of Boundary Road, where Aldi Supermarket is now, for a time it operated on both sides of the road and then moved completely onto the site that is being demolished at the moment.
When Aldi supermarket was built I hadn’t developed an interest in local history, so I don’t yet know if the people who built it were even aware that they were doing so on top of an old gasworks, or if the site was properly decontaminated.
I will endeavour to gas on as the day progresses.