cross-post from http://www.gamesmonitor.org.uk/node/1595
5th April 2012
Re: The Olympic Delivery Authority’s (ODA) recent works on Leyton Marshes, close to London’s Olympic enclosure.
Dear Mr Hone, CEO of the ODA
I am writing to you in response to your recent letter addressed to “Dear Resident” in which you attempt to persuade local people that the ODA’s plan to construct a building on Leyton Marshes (classified as Metropolitan Open Space) is justifiable.
As I am sure you are aware local people and their supporters have been practicing peaceful non-cooperation at this location. This has involved playing boules on Sandy Lane, which has had the effect of halting work on the site. Some people have also set up tents on the site.
I am a local resident and as such you kindly emailed me a copy of your letter. I am also a journalist and contributor to the Games Monitor website, and as such have been following the Olympic project in some detail.
In your letter you say …
“following planning approval by the London Borough of Waltham Forest, construction began on the 5th March 2012, preparing the foundations for this temporary structure.”
In this quote I believe you have inadvertently acknowledged one of the ODA’s faults in this matter. The ODA’s application for planning permission stated there would be no foundations. The application specified a 15cm skim of topsoil. It has been clear to all monitoring works at the site that the excavations have been significantly deeper. As such it appears that your organisation deliberately misled Waltham Forest’s planners.
I suspect the ODA misinformed the planners because the site is where World War 2 blitz rubble is buried. Much of the buried debris will have come from bombed factories, and as such is very likely to be contaminated, and indeed the test bore holes carried out before construction began confirms the site is contaminated. The danger of unexploded WW2 bombs is also an issue with the deeper than permitted excavation, as was demonstrated by the discovery of such shortly after excavations began.
In my view, if the ODA had informed Waltham Forest of plans to excavate deeper than the 15cm skim, your organisation would have been bound to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment, which I believe you were anxious to avoid, as this would have inevitably brought up the issue of of the contaminated material buried at the site, thus causing delays.
With the excavations on Leyton Marsh, as on the main Olympic site, it appears the ODA would rather put workers and locals at risk than manage contamination in a responsible way.
Within the main Olympic enclosure, which was contaminated by more than a century of dumping from all kinds of obnoxious industries, the ODA did not follow government guidelines regarding the radioactive contamination of the site, consequently spoil contaminated by radioactive isotopes was being unknowingly excavated for some months before it was discovered. In my view this poses a significant risk of significant harm to locals and workers. But the ODA went further insofar as reburying radioactive contamination on the site. This constitutes an unofficial radioactive waste facility within the Olympic enclosure.
In the planning application the ODA submitted to itself for the radioactive waste facility it is clearly stated that this site should never be disturbed. Astonishingly I now learn that the OPLC has lodged a planning application to build flats on top of this unofficial radioactive waste repository.
Though there are many examples of the ODA’s propagation of misinformation I believe this case study involving the burial of radioactive waste within the Olympic enclosure is informative and demonstrates why the ODA cannot be trusted in such matters, and in particular why the ODA cannot be trusted in relation to guarantees given over the construction and dismantling of a building on Leyton Marshes.
The other issue concerning the ODA’s construction of buildings on Leyton Marshes is whether a suitable alternative could be found. In your letter you claim this was not possible. This is again an issue of trust, or in this case lack of trust, in the ODA. I for one do not believe a serious effort was made to find an alternative location. Indeed my guess is that the UK authorities have come under pressure from another government to provide a facility at this location. I note the license obtained by the ODA for this land does not specify usage, and I am therefore also skeptical about the eventual purpose of the building.
In my opinion what has been happening with regard to protest at Leyton Marsh is actually a peaceful rebellion against a lack of truth, a protest over not being listened to, and a stand against injustice. Despite what the courts decide it is clear to me that the people protesting on Leyton Marshes have Right on their side. They have my admiration and my support.
researcher and contributor to Games Monitor