London's Hackney Marshes is basically a swampland. It always has been.
For many decades nothing was built on it other than the odd wooden changing room sheds for amateur league football players to get into their kit before playing their matches on the wide expanse of the marshes at weekends.
I grew up in Hackney myself. The goalposts during matches played on rain soaked days would sink a few inches into the ground by the end of the matches. The ground couldn't bear the weight for any lengthy period of time.
Every person living around there knew about it. Only a few years ago, there was a young chap playing in a soccer match who suddenly fell deep into a hole which suddenly opened up beneath him. That was rare but not unheard of. The problem comes from the nearby river Lea - water channels flow from it deep under the marshes constantly shifting about so that one day soft quicksand like mud will lay a few metres under one part of the marshes and then a few days later that area will be as dry as a bone again. It's unpredictable.
The almost completed main stadium to be supposedly used for the 2012 London Olympics sits right on top of those marshlands. It's cost the taxpayer a fortune. Now has come the report following recent studies of the ground where the stadium sits that it may not be able to withstand more than temporary big weight placed upon it without being in danger from a 'cracking of it's concrete'.
To be fair the report does not say that the whole stadium could collapse - though it doesn't rule out that possibility - but warns more of the long term problems of having to constantly repair areas of the stadium as they give in to the strain of the moving swamplands below.
The more immediate problem with regard to the games is that the constant weight of cars, trucks, coaches and thousands of spectators arriving to watch the events will lead to isolated incidents of localised cave ins such as in the surrounding car parks and so on. Come the games we could be having coachloads of spectators vanishing into the marshlands before they've even gone through the turnstiles.
The British Olympic Committee have issued a less than satisfactory response following leakage of the report to the media. Their statement of response includes:
'There was no way of foreseeing this problem at the time when the decision was taken to build the stadium at it's present site. When experts tested the ground they found it to be dry as a bone for several metres beneath the surface. We now know that this is often the case with those marshes and that it can change overnight.
'Nobody knew. It won't collapse. We are reasonably certain of that. The games are held in summer. There shouldn't be much in the way of rain at that time of the year. The long term future of the stadium is a concern but will depend on the extent and frequency with any later cracking of it's concrete. We just don't know what that will be.
'If it's just a few small cracks here and there then that shouldn't be a problem. It's too late now to re-locate and build another stadium somewhere else anyway, and we don't feel it would be fair on the taxpayer to ask them to pay for another stadium at this time. Like it or not we're all in this together for better or worse. These things happen. Just look forward to the games. Enjoy the games. '
Enjoy the games? Heads should roll over this. The government should be cancelling Britain's hosting of the 2012 Olympic Games immediately, cutting our losses , and pulling out of the whole stupid thing right now.