Toxic Truth: Gasworks site significant risk

The former AGL gasworks site in Hamilton.
The former AGL gasworks site in Hamilton.

A NSW Department of Planning report to the NSW Planning Assessment Commission in August said soils and groundwater on the Gasworks site were ‘‘significantly contaminated with benzene, hydrocarbons, cyanide and other heavy metals that exceed relevant human health criteria and therefore pose risks to human health and the environment’’.

NSW Planning Minister Rob 

Stokes is expected to take formal control of the assessment of planned remediation works more than four years after the NSW Environment Protection Authority declared it a significantly contaminated site containing ‘‘highly toxic’’ materials.

A Department of Planning report to the Planning Assessment Commission noted the former Gasworks site was ‘‘operated by AGL which now trades as Jemena’’.

On its website Jemena said it ‘‘inherited the site as part of a business transaction’’ in 2006.

The Department of Planning website shows AGL initiated a formal remediation process in April 2006 ‘‘to satisfy the remediation notice’’ issued by the Environment Protection Authority 18 years earlier, in 1988. The remediation proposal was withdrawn in 2007.

The most recent remediation application is in response to the 2011 EPA declaration of the Gasworks as a significantly contaminated site, requiring remediation under threat of prosecution.

Jemena said it was committed to do the works, which it expected to start late next year.

An AGL spokesman declined to respond to Herald questions about whether it had ever conducted any studies about the welfare of former staff or people living in the Hamilton area, and referred questions to Jemena.