Poisoned soil to be removed from former glassworks site
HUNDREDS of tonnes of soil contaminated with arsenic, lead and mercury will be removed from a run-down piece of parkland in Nailsea.
The town council has appointed a contamination specialist to carry out tests of the soil at the Glassworks in the High Street ahead of plans to turn the area – once described as 'Nailsea's biggest grot spot' – into a community park.
Tests carried out so far have revealed arsenic, lead and polyaroma- tic hydrocarbons – all chemicals generated as a result of glassmaking – in the soil.
Around 200 tonnes of the contaminated soil will have to be removed – at an estimated cost of £25,000 – before any work can be carried out to transform the scrubland into a community park.
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The town council has also appointed a quantity surveyor to assess the cost and level of work, which will need to be done to fill in and re-cover the site, and the ancient Glassworks remains buried below.
Nailsea Town Council clerk Ian Morrell (pictured) said: "Inevitably there are chemicals of this kind in the soil because of the type of work which was carried out there.
"There is no evidence that these chemicals in the soil pose any risk to health.
"However, the proper precautions and best practice ahead of any development would be to move the soil off the site. "Alternatively it could be cleaned while on the site.
"There is no point touching the site at the moment until we know what the costs of in-filling it would be."
The site, which is owned by North Somerset Council and is listed as an ancient scheduled monument, has lain vacant and fallen into a state of disrepair over the years, becoming a dumping ground for litter and home to colonies of rats.
Work has been carried out in the past to tidy up the area, clearing rubbish and cutting grassed areas.
Archaeological investigations carried out at the Glassworks revealed the partially buried remains of a brick cone which once housed a furnace used for making glass with associated airways, storage rooms and other structures below ground.
Concerns about the future of the site were highlighted in the Nailsea parish plan document, with residents naming the Glassworks site as the town's biggest grot spot.
The aim of the scheme is to enclose and secure the archaeology of the site, while perhaps exposing other historic elements.
Seats and picnic areas could also be introduced at the site and it is hoped it could be used by schoolchildren for educational visits.
Funding for the work could be sought from different funding bodies, such as the Lottery and English Heritage.
The Glassworks was established in 1788 and operated until 1873, producing mostly bottles and window glass.
It was the town's biggest employer and was one of the most significant glassworks in the country but after it closed most of the skilled workers moved away and Nailsea reverted to a largely agricultural community.