Contamination: seeing is believing

Monopoly boards should have gasworks for sale. They would be cheap to buy, and earn fabulous fines from other players, but next time the family took out their set for game, they would find the whole board was a deep Prussian blue, and smelled like tar. Good idea? Well, go patent the self-destroying cardboard and sell it to Monopoly for their new play-for-keeps edition of the Planet Earth set. Or, better still, take a few minutes to bone up on gasworks, and have a quick look at these photos Mark MacLean has been taking for his blog about the creek on which my city’s gasworks was built. Then, to really understand what we are facing, take yourself into one of the creeks, beside which gasworks were usually sited. See and smell for yourself, what the toxins are doing.

Standing in the creek bed, and hit by the fumes, you might feel as though Noah has parted a sea of black poison. Look out for Prussian blue discharge, and

Mark MacLean shows me Styx Creek, beside Gasworks

understand how this parted black sea, is not really held back, but is leaching at the rate of a garden hose, into a stream, that flows into waters, you have probably fished from or swam in. That hose has been running full-bore for a century, and will run for many more, until cities excavate their old gasworks sites, to an 8 or 10 meter depth, and take all the filth elsewhere, for containment, or treatment.

Regular readers of this blog will know where I’m coming from, as a bicycling advocate. I have been writing about waterways as avenues though cities, for off-road bicycle routes, and I have been writing about the contaminated sites they link up, as sites for bicycle oriented development. Permitting very high density development of geographically central old gasworks, is the only way I can imagine funds will ever be found, for the cleanup. In the mean time, taking bikes past these sites, along waterways, seems like the best way of raising public awareness.

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