The manager and three workers are at the Palmerston North gasworks which opened in 1889 to produce coal gas for the town. The process of making coal gas exposed those engaged in it to a number of hazardous substances, including coal dust, noxious gases and tar compounds. Effects ranged from irritation of the eyes, nose and throat, to cancer and neurological impairment. Because some gasworks’ pollutants break down slowly, remediation of gasworks sites remained an issue in New Zealand in the 2000s.
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