London's Olympic Park Cleanup Transformed Polluted Site (PHOTOS)
With the 2012 Summer Olympics only months away, London's Olympic venues are taking shape. Among the city's many transformations is the construction of the Olympic Park in a once-polluted industrial area.
The site, situated along the River Lea, was previously contaminated with "heavy metals, hydrocarbons, arsenic and cyanide," explained BBC News.
After an intensive cleanup effort, officials constructed the largest urban park in Britain in over a century. According to the Press Association, the cleanup area was the size of 297 football fields.
Officials planted 2,000 native trees and 300,00 wetland plants and restored five miles of the River Lea. 110 acres of land were also turned into "reed beds, wet woodlands, grassland and ponds" to encourage the return of wildlife.
The cleanup process involved removing junk by hand and then decontaminating two million tons of soil using special "soil washer" machines. Chris Smith, chairman of the UK Environment Agency, said, "You get a win-win out this re-use of soil on site because you don't have the [truck] movements back and forth. You don't send vast quantities of semi-contaminated soil to landfill sites around the country, and you can have a much more sensible process that re-uses and recycles," reported BBC News.
Metro notes that London's Olympic plans included other green initiatives that did not come to fruition. A Nissan proposal to use Leaf electric vehicles to transport athletes and officials was scrapped in favor of a contract with BMW.
British officials also planned to draw 20 percent of the Games' power from renewable sources, but did not meet that goal. With the Olympic Delivery Authority calling its original plan to use wind energy a "mistake," according to Metro, the real figure will be closer to 11 percent.
Below, check out pictures of the transformation of the area that became the Olympic Park. Images courtesy of UK Environment Agency.