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Toxic leaching

Geologists have given warning that developers must take full account of the geology beneath the Olympic park and, more widely, in the Thames Gateway area from Tower Bridge to Thurrock. In engineering terms the land is classed as “difficult”, thanks to compressible soils, high groundwater levels and contamination.

Katharine Royse, who is leading a project at the British Geological Survey to map the geology of the Thames Gateway, says: “Let’s stand back and take a look [at the geology] before we go ahead and start developing, because it costs money to put things right.”

Not having an accurate model of the alluvial deposits, London clay and Lambeth Group (a layer cake of gravels, sands and silt) on which the city sits, means, Dr Royse says, that “people will need to spend more money than they otherwise would have done”.

Since the Olympic development is likely to include the opening up of watercourses along the Thames riverbank and the extension of wetland areas, knowledge about contamination is crucial. Writing in Geoscientist, Dr Royse and colleagues noted: “If unidentified soil and groundwater contamination is present, these contaminants may migrate via these newly formed pathways, posing a significant risk to water quality if left untreated.”

From: Olympics on shaky ground, Anjana Ahuja, The Times, 27 11 06

More at: Contaminated

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