Toxic Truth: Slag taints foreshore

 Toxic black slag in Boolaroo. Picture By Ryan Osland
Toxic black slag in Boolaroo. Picture By Ryan Osland

 THE state government is ‘‘looking into’’ toxic black slag on the Eleebana shore, amid concerns about residents being exposed to  poison.

The Newcastle Herald took soil samples from the area recently, which recorded a lead level of 3100parts per million – five times above recommended levels. 

Lake Macquarie City Council used black slag to stabilise a section of foreshore in the Bareki Road/Macquarie Drive area of Eleebana, after a landslip in the 1980s.

This was before scientists discovered the slag was toxic waste that poses a significant risk of harm to humans.

The council said it had ‘‘inspected the site and identified black slag below the waterline’’.

‘‘The site is Crown land – it is not under council’s care and control,’’ it said.

‘‘Council officers have referred the matter to Crown Lands Division and are awaiting a response.’’

A Crowns Land spokesman said it was ‘‘looking into this matter in consultation with Lake Macquarie council and the Environment Protection Agency’’.

The council insisted it was not aware that slag had leached onto the shore until the Herald story.

This was despite Macquarie University researcher Anthony Morrison saying a council officer directed him to the area when he took samples for a study on black slag some years ago.

His 2006 report on slag listed the Eleebana shore as a sample site for black slag, which the council partly funded.

The report said the project was ‘‘only possible due to monetary assistance’’ from Lake Macquarie council.

The council said the Eleebana site ‘‘that the researcher discussed with council in 2010 is a different site at Lions Park’’. The council insisted it was unaware of exposed black slag ‘‘in the vicinity of the jetties’’ – an area just south of Lions Park.

Mr Morrison said he had given presentations to the council on the matter ‘‘a while back’’.

‘‘They may well have forgotten – the thing is, they change personnel and a whole lot of corporate memory goes out the door,’’ he said.

However, some senior management at council has remained in place for years.

Mr Morrison’s research has shown  dangerous metals from toxic black slag are leaching into waterways and land across Lake Macquarie.

He has worked on a series of core samples of slag taken from around Lake Macquarie to examine the ‘‘leaching characteristics of the heavy metals’’. 

Samples were taken from Tredinnick Oval, Speers Point, the reserve alongside Cockle Creek and Eleebana.

‘‘The council will end up with $200,000worth of work out of me for a $10,000contribution they made five years ago,’’ Mr Morrison said.

‘‘I’ve spent about $30,000of my own cash.’’

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