Maesteg Row, South Wales case study - A former gas works proves larger than originally thought

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Courtesy of Landmark Information Group

An old gas company sold land to Maesteg Rural District Council for social housing in the 1970s. Although the land had been sold, improved historic data has indicated the gasworks site was much larger than originally thought – and nearer to residential housing.

British Gas inherited the site, and as part of maintenance programme undertook ‘stabilisation work’ – investigating potential pollutants and threats to groundwater. It was during this work that a major problem was discovered.

Historic Maps Reveal The Truth

Through different archive maps from the nineteenth century, it was discovered that the original gasworks had a larger footfall (around 4 house-plots) than previously thought. Around 40 or so houses were potentially affected (including the threat from remediation works). Part demolished old storage tanks and coke ovens underneath the land near the  boundaries to the houses, were potential problems.

Pollutants of concern included tars, metals and organics and subsequent remediation removed liquid material to landfill and found a couple of hotspots including organic and heavy metal pollution. The situation represented a danger to the  householders via the gardens, specifically through toxic dust contained within the soil and transmission of chemical pollutants through vegetables grown in the gardens themselves. Levels of chemical pollutants didn’t represent an immediate hazard – but a significant longer term health risk to households.

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