Newcastle:Toxic waste found in residential subdivision


TOXIC heavy metals have been detected in a stormwater pit next to a new residential subdivision on former Pasminco land at Boolaroo.

Tests confirmed cadmium and zinc – slightly above environmental water quality levels – at the site, believed to be from contaminated groundwater.

An Environment Protection Authority spokeswoman said investigations were under way to determine how to deal with the polluted water. The sediment basin is located on TC Frith Avenue, on land that was gifted to Lake Macquarie City Council and will be converted to a stormwater quality treatment basin. It used to be part of the ‘‘triangle paddock’’ where the 90-lot housing estate is being built by developer Stevens Group, opposite the former Pasminco lead and zinc smelter.

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When contacted about the issue, Boolaroo Action Group spokesman Stan Kiaos said he was concerned pollution was still a problem on the site. ‘‘I would really like to know why the community hasn’t been told about this and what they plan to do with the water,’’ he said.

Boolaroo community reference group chairman Greg Piper, the Lake Macquarie MP, said he was unaware of the issue, but would raise it at the group’s meeting next week.

Authorities have been strongly criticised for their handling of the clean-up of the Pasminco site and Mr Kiaos said confusion still reigns. He said authorities were ‘‘passing the buck’’, after the EPA and Lake Macquarie City Council pointed to each other.

An EPA spokeswoman said the land was being subdivided under council planning consent and the stormwater pit was on council land.

‘‘The developer (Stevens Group), Pasminco and council are currently working on options for the disposal of water from the site,’’ she said.

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But the council referred questions about the polluted water back to the EPA.

‘‘The water quality in the sediment basin is under investigation by the EPA in consultation with the land developer,’’ a spokeswoman said. When asked about the source of the contamination and what would be done with it, the council spokeswoman referred the question to the EPA.

Stevens Group planning services manager Lin Armstrong said Bunderra was the ‘‘cleanest site’’ in Boolaroo.

She said water from the basin was usually pumped to the Pasminco site and used as dust suppressant. ‘‘The plan is to fill the bottom and cap it with a clay base so it no longer interacts with the groundwater and won’t be an issue,’’ she said.

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