Toxic Truth: Fund needed to handle lead contamination - Greg Piper MP

GREG PIPER
GREG PIPER

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THE NSW government must establish a sinking fund to ensure future generations of Boolaroo residents are not exposed to dangerous lead contamination, Lake Macquarie MP Greg Piper says.

Mr Piper has just returned from a trip to Idaho, in the US, where he visited communities affected by smelter operations.

‘‘There needs to be a system in place to maintain the cap and cover in perpetuity,’’ he said.

‘‘I believe there will need to be a trust fund set up and we need to decide who is going to administer it.’’

Mr Piper chairs the Community Lead Reference Group that was formed in response to the Newcastle Herald’s Toxic Truth investigation that uncovered major flaws in the effectiveness of a program designed to deal with heavy metal pollution in suburbs around the old smelter site at Cockle Creek.

Though not all aspects of the controversial Lead Abatement Strategy worked, Mr Piper said he supported the ‘‘cap and cover’’ method.

There were a number of areas excluded from the clean-up program, including former Pasminco-owned properties and garden beds, that needed to be addressed.

‘‘I’m not convinced we have the situation in hand,’’ Mr Piper said.

‘‘Residents should not have to bear the burden of contaminated material in the future.’’

Mr Piper said there was much to be learnt from communities around the world about how places like Boolaroo can deal with the legacy of a former lead smelter.

He said funds needed to be set aside for property owners to access and the state government could not ‘‘absolve itself of responsibility’’.

‘‘People should not be burdened with any costs associated with the contamination,’’ Mr Piper said.

‘‘We need systems in place if a home is demolished or if someone comes along and puts in a pool or does other damage to the cap and cover barrier.’’  

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

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