Stench from old gasworks site in Lewes is ‘unbearable’

Smells, noise and dust from development affecting Morris Road residents.
Smells, noise and dust from development affecting Morris Road residents.

Residents in a peaceful Lewes street are up in arms over the “unbearable” smell emanating from a building site.

One said people in Morris Road have been forced to live for weeks “under very unpleasant and potentially harmful conditions”.

Hillary Lloyd

Hillary Lloyd

Riverdale Developments Ltd is working in adjacent Timberyard Lane clearing the site of the town’s former gasworks where 13 homes will be built beside the River Ouse.

The company has removed some 1,500 tonnes of contaminated soils resulting from the gasworks process.

In a letter to Riverdale, Morris Road resident Neil Turner said: “The odour coming from the site last night was unbearable. My wife is now very distressed and suffering health problems as a result and we are now very concerned as to the health repercussions on our ten-year-old boy.”

He is seeking assurances that the fumes are not carcinogenic or a danger to the health of people living nearby.

Mr Turner said: “We cannot use our outside spaces and have to keep our doors and windows shut, which during a summer such as this is unbearable. I believe you should be at the least offering to relocate residents adversely affected by your project.

“I understand also that the River Ouse has been flooding onto the contaminated land at high tide and I suspect flowing back into the river as the tide goes out. Is this not a concern for the wildlife that depend on the river?”

Neighbour Susan Healey has also written to Riverdale. She said: “The fumes have got stronger throughout the evening. It is very concerning. We are being forced to live under very unpleasant and potentially harmful conditions .

In earlier correspondence, she said: “Once again I find myself confined to one room of my house due to the noxious odour coming from the site. It is 6pm and the stink has been continuous all day. I am feeling nauseous and I have a headache.”

Resident Hillary Lloyd said: “The noise is dreadful. We have to keep doors and windows closed in this hot weather. There is dust over everything and we are breathing it in – I’ve got a sore throat.”

Riverdale Developments Ltd said the completed works will be a significant environmental improvement.

It said: “Daily environmental monitoring is being carried out at the site boundaries and this includes monitoring for vapours, odours, noise, vibration and dust.

“All monitoring methods and acceptance criteria has been agreed with Lewes District Council before the works commenced and is reviewed by the council on a weekly basis.

“During spring high tides there is water ingress in the site through minor gaps within the sheet piled wall. It is worth noting that this ingress would have been occurring for many years over the lifetime of the wall.

“The only difference now is that the excavation works associated with the decontamination has exposed the ingress of water onto the site. However, the remediation works will remove the contamination so no contaminated water will leach from the site.

“These works are being monitored by the Environment Agency who are satisfied that the works Riverdale are undertaking will be a significant environmental improvement to the situation that existed prior to the current works.”

On control of odours, Riverdale said: “The site currently uses a spray system based on surfactant induced absorption technology to encapsulate any odour. It is anticipated this system will be used whilst any odorous material is excavated and should be complete at the end of August.”

Riverdale told local residents that the majority of the noise has been the breaking-up and crushing of the heavily reinforced concrete. Acoustic fencing has been installed on the boundary with Foundry Lane to mitigate noise.

The concrete crusher uses an inbuilt dust suppression system, and surface spraying is undertaken when required to minimise any dust which is blown around.