Toxic Truth: Containment cell proposed

The Pasminco Cockle Creek lead smelter site in Boolaroo.
The Pasminco Cockle Creek lead smelter site in Boolaroo.

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NEWCASTLE City Council is investigating building a containment cell at its landfill site to accept lead-contaminated soil from north Lake Macquarie.

Testing by the Environment Protection Authority has found the toxic soil must be isolated from other waste when it is disposed of.

A spokeswoman said the EPA was developing an approval process for a tip to accept the lead contaminated soil and slag from Boolaroo, Speers Point and Argenton without requiring further testing.

She said this would reduce the cost of disposal for land owners.

It is unclear how much it would cost to dispose of the toxic soil and slag, but Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper said residents should not be burdened with extra costs due to Pasminco’s pollution.

Mr Piper has called for the establishment of a future fund to assist with the costs associated with dealing with the toxic soil.

The EPA spokeswoman said testing confirmed contaminated soil from within the Lead Abatement Strategy grid could be classified as general solid waste.

‘‘It requires disposal at a licensed landfill in an isolated area away from other waste materials in order to reduce exposure to acidic landfill conditions,’’ she said.

‘‘Newcastle City Council is considering an option to build a containment cell at one of its existing waste facilities to take affected soils from the Boolaroo region.

‘‘Further advice for residents in North Lake Macquarie about the options for removal and disposal of lead slag contaminated soil will be communicated when approvals have been finalised.’’

Residents were previously able to dump lead-contaminated soil in a containment cell on the former Cockle Creek smelter site, but it closed earlier this year.

The former Pasminco site at Boolaroo before it was decommisioned and dismantled.

The former Pasminco site at Boolaroo before it was decommisioned and dismantled.