Skip to main content

Crossrail Line

Volume 487: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment has been made of the risk of contamination from (a) bubonic plague, (b) anthrax and (c) other biological agents as a consequence of the possible disturbance of burial grounds during the construction of the Crossrail project. (252334)

Crossrail, in common with all other major projects, has been the subject of a comprehensive environmental impact assessment. A significant part of this was the investigation of archaeological remains, including burial grounds, along the route. This investigation was carried out by the Museum of London Archaeological Services. Although there are a number of burial grounds on the route, this is not generally an issue where the running tunnels are at some depth underground. There are issues, however, at the stations where excavation must of necessity be carried out from ground level.

Only one site was identified where this issue may arise. This is at the eastern end of the Farringdon station adjacent to the eastern end of the Smithfield meat market. A trial pit will be excavated as soon as Crossrail has obtained possession of the site, and the appropriate testing will be carried out. The techniques for dealing with these matters are well understood by archaeologists and the necessary specialist advice will be taken.

This matter was discussed at some length in the House of Lords Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill and subsequently with Lord James of Blackheath who was a member of the Committee. In the event that any contaminated remains are found these will be dealt with in the appropriate manner as set out in guidance from Government, English Heritage and the ecclesiastical authorities.