IF Barry Bradley has one regret about his time at the Pasminco lead smelter it is that he didn’t learn more about the safety issues associated with slag waste.
During the 1980s and 90s Mr Bradley watched as hundreds of tonnes of slag from the smelter was dumped into areas such as Speers Point park and nearby Cockle Bay.
‘‘You just got on and did your job; you didn’t ask questions,’’ Mr Bradley, who worked at the smelter for 38-and-a-half years said.
‘‘No one thought it was anything to worry about because they just kept us in the dark about the health effects of lead.’’
Mr Bradley recently pointed out several areas to the Newcastle Herald where slag was either clearly visible or buried beneath a thin layer of top soil.
Children were either playing on near the exposed areas in Speers Point park.
The black granular waste can easily be identified along the banks of Cockle Creek.
‘‘They used to deny it was leaching into the water, but how can you argue with this,’’ Mr Bradley said holding up a garden trowel full of slag that he said would have been dumped in the early 1980s.
Like most others, he believes options to remove the slag are now limited, but he wants more done to protect the community.
‘‘I’d say the horse has bolted,’’ he said.
‘‘The whole thing was a massive cover-up but someone should take responsibility,’’ he said.
Mr Bradley also laments the demise of Cockle Creek over the past five decades.
‘‘When I first arrived here in the 60s the fish were as clean as you would find anywhere. There’s no way I’d eat a fish that came out of here today,’’ he said.