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More dust clouds fear as building restarts on Westferry printworks site on Isle of Dogs

PUBLISHED: 17:00 07 August 2018 | UPDATED: 13:35 14 August 2018

Piles of dust left uncovered at Westferry Printworks construction site where work resumes on August 13. Picture: Mike Brooke

Piles of dust left uncovered at Westferry Printworks construction site where work resumes on August 13. Picture: Mike Brooke

Mike Brooke

Work is about to resume on the controversial Westferry printworks construction site which caused months of pollution and clouds of dust on the Isle of Dogs last summer.

Five-year-old Freddy Cooper on his respirator. Picture: Mike BrookeFive-year-old Freddy Cooper on his respirator. Picture: Mike Brooke

Families on Millwall’s adjoining Barkantine estate—where five-year-old Freddy Cooper and his gran had to wear breathing apparatus to get through the day—fear they’re in for seven more years of pollution.

Now the estate’s management team has applied to Tower Hamlets Council for a grant for a portable air monitor kit to test pollution after work starts on August 20.

“The air quality from Westferry Printworks is causing great concern,” estate chairman Ahmed Hussain said.

“We need a portable kit because there’s only one fixed monitoring station in Millwall Park which is too far. We want to measure the air close to sources of pollution, particularly on the Barkentine.”

Dust monitoring equipment installed at Westferry Printworks site next to Barkantine housing estate. Picture: Ralph HardwickDust monitoring equipment installed at Westferry Printworks site next to Barkantine housing estate. Picture: Ralph Hardwick

The equipment would measure particles 10 micrometers or less in diameter, known as PM10, small enough to get into lungs, potentially causing serious health problems. The estate also wants to measure other types of pollutants.

Mace contractors have installed their own dust monitoring equipment as well as a device to measure vibration and water sprays to damp down the dust when work resumes. Neighbours were offered a survey on their homes to ensure any damage resulting from construction would be remedied.

The company invited Tower Hamlets councillor Andrew Wood on a site visit last week where he saw the equipment.

But not all the dusty 30ft piles of rubble still on the site have been covered over since last summer’s demolition work, the East London Advertiser found.

Cllr Andrew Wood visits Barkantine estate families after his site visit to Westferry Printworks to see the dust piles for himself. Picture: Mike BrookeCllr Andrew Wood visits Barkantine estate families after his site visit to Westferry Printworks to see the dust piles for himself. Picture: Mike Brooke

Cllr Wood, who also visited the Barkantine families on Saturday, told the paper: “Some of those piles were still not being covered in plastic sheeting. They have to dig 40ft deep and that will create more dust.

“The council should be playing an active role to help the families rather than leaving them to deal with the issues. The Public Health department has been reluctant to get involved.”

Council officers made a site visit to the Westferry site on August 3 and 8 and have been in touch with the developers who confirmed they are dampening the stockpiles of crushed material using a ‘dust buster’ to cover them in sheeting to minimise the effects of dust.

The council has also asked top look at their dust monitoring data.

Work resumes August 13... but piles of dusty rubble remain uncovered at Westferry Printworks construction site. Picture: Mike BrookeWork resumes August 13... but piles of dusty rubble remain uncovered at Westferry Printworks construction site. Picture: Mike Brooke

Dust disruption from excavated material is being “minimised” by dampening or covering the rubble and using wind-guided directional sprinkler systems, the company promises. Existing printworks roads are being kept so that site vehicles move on a hard surface to reduce ground disruption.

No work is being carried out on Saturday mornings when families are likely to be in their homes, requested by Tower Hamlets Council. The current phase is likely to run till February, but the whole construction could take another seven years.

The site owners, Northern & Shell, have planning consent for a 700-unit housing complex, while a second application has since been made to double the size to 1,500 homes in six tower blocks reaching up to 46 storeys.

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