24 November, 2006

Olympic Games: going for plutonium?

The London Evening Standard says it has obtained documents showing that part of the proposed Olympic site is possibly contaminated by "high risk" material, including radioactive waste and other materials left over from the days when area was the used for oil storage,tar manufacture and various other chemical industries.

Once the remediation finally begins, it will be the biggest such job in Europe, involving two million tonnes of soil on a site that measures 3.24 million square feet.

The greenest techniques were promised, including soilwashing on site, introducing micro-organisms that "eat" contaminants and "cooking" contaminated soil at high temperatures to sterilise it.

However, natural or semi-natural methods are relatively slow and there is growing concern that the agency will be forced to adopt the costliest, most environmentally damaging procedure, known as "dig and dump". Dr Carey [of Greenwhich University] said: "Because they are getting so short of time, they might end up doing it the quickest way, which is just to dig up the contaminated soil and take it away but it would be a tragedy if they did that."
Soil removal will be expensive. The Standard reports a possible cost of over £80m.

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