Calls to Close London 'Mega-Mosque' Site amid 'Contamination' Revelations

Reports have emerged that the land upon which the proposed London "mega-mosque" is due to be built has a "medium/high" contamination risk.

|PIC1|The information, allegedly obtained by Newham Councillor Alan Craig, was gained under the Freedom of Information Act (FIA).

The report on the site close to the 2012 Olympic Stadium says that decontamination of the ground at the Riverine Centre site at Abbey Mills, Stratford may take up to 18 months - putting the opening of the mosque in time for the Olympics in doubt.

Cllr Craig, one of the leading opponents of the mosque being built, sought full public disclosure under the FIA of the Risk Management Strategy Report, carried out by Waterman Environmental, after being given a copy on highly confidential basis as a local councillor.

He said the contents were of "major public concern" and raised huge questions as to "why the mosque trustees had not acted on an earlier report into the contamination, and thereby, potentially putting current visitors to the site and local residents at risk".

The Abbey Mills site was occupied as a chemical works for at least 100 years. Works were decommissioned in the late 1980s, the site demolished and remediated in 1992.

Since then the site has been used as a venue for large festivals of up to 5,000 people and part of the site is currently used a mosque, attended by some 1,000 people each Friday.

The latest announcement by Allies and Morrison, the new design team appointed by the mosque's trustees claim the 18-acre development, which they acquired in 1996, will include the largest mosque in the United Kingston (capacity 12,000), an Islamic school for 500 pupils, and a major conference centre, Cllr Craig tells Christian Today.

A makeshift mosque on the site has been operating without planning permission for the past five months. On its current website, the trustees explain this by saying: "We accept that the five year planning consent granted in 2001 has expired, but we are in dialogue with the local council who accept that the extensive contamination on the site means this issue must be resolved before any new application can proceed.

"A study on the contamination is being undertaken, and when this report is ready, the council will be willing to entertain another planning application to retain the buildings for a temporary permission."

However, Cllr Craig says the trustees have had the report since March, and failing to act on its recommendations is "irresponsible and does not bode well for the trustworthiness, or transparency of claims made by the trustees".

He is calling on Newham Council to carry out an urgent Environmental Risk Assessment on the site as "members of the public may well be subjecting themselves to potential risk".

|QUOTE|According to Cllr Craig, the March 2007 Waterman Report revealed that the original pre-remediation works had discovered "significant" soil and groundwater impact, principally by mercury, lead, arsenic and oil and fuels. Asbestos fibres were detected, there is "elevated soil contamination", and methane and carbon dioxide land gas readings.

Cllr Craig warned that "the potential for contaminated groundwater to break out form the site will increase with time".

He added: "We know that children have been restricted from using the grassed areas on the site due to the trustees lack of confidence in the capping and some fences have been erected, but that's not good enough.

"The trustees have known about the severe contamination of this site since 1996 and have done nothing."

Cllr Craig urged the Council to bring in the Environment Agency and close down the site until an independent report could be undertaken.

He also insisted on full decontamination and further independent tests before people are allowed back on site and any new planning application is submitted.

He concluded: "The behaviour of the trustees has been grossly irresponsible and raises serious questions about how much their corporate statements can be trusted."