Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Thursday, 26 February 2009

The Thor Chemical Site some facts


This picture appeared in promotional material published in the late 1980's by G.A Harvey Ltd. Even though the subject is the G.A.Harvey factory site the neighbouring Thor Chemical site can be seen in the original layout before the Thor extension was built. The site originally belonged to the Margate Catering Company and was an orchard, the wooded area at the rear of the site were mainly fruit trees that had self seeded when the orchard was abandoned. During the Second World War a Home Guard unit was based on the site and there was an ammunition dump stored somewhere in the old railway siding that ran through the back of the site from the bridge at Nash Road to the Home Guard base on the site. The Home Guard, Guarded the ammunition somewhere in the area.
Between the wooded area and the first white building is waste land and the empty blue chemical containers and drums were stored in that area , there was also a system of stacking them on top of each other . The white building and tower was the storage and processing plant and the "L" shaped building was the reception area and office block. When the site was extended everything from the waste land area through to the woodland was removed down to chalk level. The new extension as seen today was then constructed on the chalk base and the remaining area was re landscaped with new soil.
The Harvey site was bought out by Steelcase and closed in October 2003. Before Steelcase moved out the Environment Agency carried out tests on the Steelcase site for any industrial contamination as the site was going to be sold on the open market. So there is recent data taken from the East of the site. The Steelcase site was sold to Pearce Signs and when Pearce Signs moved out the site was redeveloped into smaller units.
When the Thor chemical was in production G.A.Harvey operated a wet paint plant and there was an extensive use of solvents, Rovex was processing plastic and Emco Wheaton was casting metal. All these processes resulted in air pollution at the time and could be easily be mistaken for the process at Thor chemicals. The original soil in the area has been removed, so that only leaves any evidence in the chalk if any from Thor.
However, the biggest source of Mercury pollution in Thanet has been overlooked, which just happens to be the Crematorium. Imagine how many mecury based dental fillings that have been evapourised at the Crematorium in the 1970's and 1980's.
During the G.A Harvey office manufacture the paint plant was solvent based and all waste was stored adjacent to the Thor site at the side of the factory. There was also a narrow strip of land that went behind the Thor site and on that land was a number of skips where the used solvent and paint containers were dumped. Drums of used waste paint, solvent and thinners awaiting collection were on pallets and the ground smelt of paint and thinners. When Thor extended they purchased this strip of land after G. A Harvey had cleared the site. In the left hand corner of the picture the wooded area ends and behind that the entrance to the strip of land can be seen and where the dumping skips begin. The reason why everything was pushed into this area was because of the lorry movements and lorry container storage.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

When the children from Gordon Road Westwood were walked down to Salmestone School there wuld be a "Gardener" at the front of Thor stopping children running on to their front. "Weedkiller on the paths" was the explanation.

If I recall of what was written about Thor in Africa it was that workers would be put to work on gardening till blood levels of chemicals had dropped below certain guidelines then the workers would be returned to the process.

Was the same happening in Margate ?

Michael Child said...

Tony Rovex also die cast metal for train wheels and had some sort of chemical washing shop, I can’t for the life of me remember what for, but they had some sort of acid bath in there, the people running that set up would descale heat exchangers the engineers occasionally.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Michael, the process you refer to is known as "pickling". The dilution is one part Sulphuric acid to nine parts water which is a far stronger solution than that used to discale a kettle.

Michael Child said...

Tony fool that I am I thought that was something one did in the pub.

Tony Beachcomber said...

There is a process in the leather industry which puts swirl like patterns in leather. The dyed leather is laid flat and is gathered up into a pile and a strong solution of formic acid and water is poured into the folds. After a minute the leather is put into a container of clean water and laid out flat to dry. This process is called "marbleling". This process was used by William Clarke Leather Currying Ltd on the Westwood Industrial Estate in the early eighties. The marbled leather was used for menu covers and book covers.

Tony Beachcomber said...

Another old acid process used in Thanet was acid etching glass bottles. When M J Harlow first started business in Margate manufacturing mineral water in the 1860's. The business was run from the Brewers arms in Margate High Street on the site of the present day W H Smith. For a new business embossed bottles was expensive and labelled bottles would not garuntee getting the bottles back. So plain bottles were acid etched to ensure the bottles would be returned. Most local mineral bottle manufactures started off this way and the bottles are highly collectable as they can be dated to establishing of the business.

Michael Child said...

Thanks Tony methanoic acid (Formic acid) yep that’s the one, essential for turning latex into a preventive, widely used in the prevention of aids, funny really a mixture of bee sting and tree sap, may well be a major factor in the survival of humanity

Michael Child said...

Tony I have just given the youf of today the darkroom measuring flasks I made this way in 1960 something, dipping them in wax decanting measured water from a pipette, scratching the wax and the numbers ml floz and leaving it in the acid to etch.
The youf of today have all gone of to Broadstairs to give blood this evening, possibly a reflection on modern society, they weren’t hungry before they went, I don’t think it will be vegetarian when they get home.

ascu75 aka Don said...

the amount of dangerous chemicals that have been used in Thanet it is amazing the place is still here