Literature Of Manufactured Gas Click graphics to view larger versions, if available
Professor Hatheway herewith shows spine-and cover images of the types of
original American and British technical gas literature that can yet be found in
the used and rare book market. He's spent "a small fortune" gathering this
material for his vast personal library since the 1980s and prefers their pages
in which to seek the truths of historic manufactured gas technologies and
operations "from the 'horse's mouths' of the real gas engineers and gas-plant
managers. In particular he searches
for evidence and statements as to how specific gasworks were designed and
operated, and of the residuals and wastes that were generated, and how the gas
plant operators managed those wastes. An important accessor line of evidence is
his interest in the "awareness" of the gas manufacturers, of the dangerous
properties and characteristics of their products, residuals, by-products, and
their plant wastes.
This historic literature today is invaluable for many reasons, stemming from our efforts to save and memorialize historic industrial technology, as well as dealing with the need to accurately characterize abandoned gas works around which there typically large clusters of toxic wastes, as explained elsewhere at this website.
VALUE of HISTORIC LITERATURE of MANUFACTURED GAS
This website is dedicated to the imperative need to recognize that uncontrolled historic gas works residuals and wastes are, as a group of toxic chemicals, a major threat to human health and the environment. There literally is no way in which the presence and threat of these hazardous wastes can be adequately treated in mitigation or remediation without a concerted effort to accurately identify and describe these wastes at each individual FMGP or other coal-tar site. Historic literature provides the basis for developing a correct and accurate understanding of the threatening nature of each site and to form the basis for the site exploration and sampling that is necessary to define the environmental threats at each "gas works" site.
This literature is invaluable today for a number of reasons, primarily the following:
• To locate and describe the gas works threats to today's Population;
• To devise the most accurate possible bases for exploration Of gas works sites as targets for remedial cleanup;
• To establish fiscal responsibility for payment of the costs Of remedial action at these "coal-tar" sites;
• To provide a reasonable and accurate basis for reclamation And reuse/redevelopment of otherwise valuable parcels of Land upon which gas works were located and operated or Upon which their residuals and wastes were discharged (dumped) to the environment.
TYPES of HISTORIC LITERATURE of MANUFACTURED GAS
Manufactured gas was considered the prime marvel of the industrial age. Literally huge amounts of writing was focused on how to make illuminating gas (later fuel and heating gas as well) from the very beginning of the manufactured gas era. This information was traded freely in the developed world of the time and was based on the premise of information for the common good, while the patent system offered some additional incentive for inventors to prove their technologies as innovations to the gas makers.
Historic gas literature is made up of the following types of materials:
• Historic newspaper accounts, often bearing locational descriptions as well as descriptions of the gas making processes and how the residuals and wastes were handled in past times;
• Fire insurance maps (notably those of Daniel Sanborn and partners, reaching coast-to-coast in the United States after 1883;
• "Birdseye" drawings showing the city or town from a low-oblique aerial view, as if the viewer was posted in a balloon gondola, generally located over the waterfront of the river or port that led to establishment of the city;
• Town, city, and county histories, each generally giving a sketch of the establishments of gas works and their general location and some indication of their life span and nature of operation;
• Commercial town directories, common in North America after 1850 and listing businesses and citizens alike, often declaring the addresses of both the gas company office and that of the gas plant;
• Historic photographs held in private collections and now increasingly posted to the Internet by museums, public libraries and historical societies;
• Corporate histories published by proud gas and electric utility companies, in the pre-environmental era (generally before 1990).
• Trade magazines and journals, most notably after creation of the Journal of Gas Lighting, at London, in 1849 and the American Gas-Light Journal, at New York City, in 1859;
These periodicals generally contain specific information about individual gas plants, coke ovens, tar distilleries and other locations harboring toxic residuals today;
• Technical books written by experts in the field of manufactured gas and all of its subsidiary fields of technical expertise; This literature typically was British in origin and began with Ackerman's treatise of 1815.
It was not until the dawn of the 19th century that the American manufactured gas industry began to produce its own variety of handbooks and manuals of gas- making technology. As a result, American gasmen bought freely of European books and journals and many of the gasmen were central European immigrants who came to American with the capacity to read German, French or Italian gas manufacturing handbooks;
• Proceedings and other publications of the numerous national and regional associations of manufactured-gas engineers and managers, generally containing specific papers about the technical and safety-related problems that confronted the gas manufacturing industry at the time and generally which related to the nature of today's toxic waste threats.
For citizens and concerned public officials, the first eight of these historic sources are generally available right in the city center, beginning with the history collection or history room of the public library. The remainder of the list is more difficult to access but clearly identifiable by use of the magnificent library cataloging that has become available in the past decade, on the Internet.
The following two tables are Professor Hatheway's selection of valuable references containing information that is directly useful in dealing with today's hazardous waste threat from FMGPs.