Brunel University is hosting a new audio and visual exhibition that examines the lives of communities including Southall which are impacted by contaminated soil.
The free to visit Bridging Lives exhibition is on until 25 March 2023 and combines community led initiatives together with academic research that examines and explores the impact of soil on land that has been contaminated by historical and recent economic development.
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Southall along with Salford in Greater Manchester are the two communities that are explored.
It explores how the former Southall Gasworks is being developed into The Green Quarter by Berkeley Group and the impact of the historical contamination in the soil which residents have challenged the developer over.
Residents have complained of ill health, bad smells and other issues that they say impacts their lives on a daily basis.
Among those involved with the exhibition is local group Clean Air for Southall and Hayes (CASH) which has been campaigning since 2016 about the quality of air in their community and seeking to get both the local authority, Ealing Council as well government authorities to take action.
Angela Fonso, chair of the Clean Air For Southall and Hayes told EALING.NEWS about the importance of the exhibition: “Brunel University’s Bridging Lives exhibition is an opportunity to bring CASH’s audio testimonies of life living next door to a contaminated land site to a new audience. We are still experiencing exposure to harmful air pollution from the former gasworks.
“A member of CASH regularly detects noxious fumes when walking along the Grand Union towpath along the boundary of the site and another member of the group recently experienced a strong solvent like odour in front of Berkeley Group’s hoarding on Beaconsfield Road which caused throat irritation and nausea.
“Despite regularly reporting odour incidences to the Environmental Protection Officer, the complainant is never informed how and when their notification of odour nuisance is investigated. We are disappointed that our ward councillor and leader of Ealing Council Peter Mason and Ealing Council have consistently failed to protect a vulnerable community and we will continue to support Brunel University scientists with further soil and air pollution research.”
Neil Reynolds, chair of Ealing Greens told EALING.NEWS: “This exhibition is an excellent initiative to raise awareness about the lack of monitoring and action by both central and local government at the gasworks site. The disturbance of contaminated soil is one of the major causes of poor air quality in Southall. Residents deserve better.”
In 2020, The Guardian did a report on the site – Is my neighbourhood ‘poisoning’ me? Living in the shadow of a gasworks redevelopment
The Green Quarter, Southall, is an 88-acre brownfield site on the south bank of the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union Canal. Once the location of the Southall Gas Works, it is being redeveloped for mixed-used including 3,750 homes by Berkeley Homes. Remediation works to improve the soil condition have included an open-air soil hospital but residents living in and close to the site have highlighted over recent years that they suffer from poor air which impacts their lives.