Toxic Truth: Councillors concerned by State Government failures

Lake Macquarie councillor Daniel Wallace is disturbed by the reported lead levels.
Lake Macquarie councillor Daniel Wallace is disturbed by the reported lead levels.

LAKE Macquarie councillors have raised serious concerns about NSW government failures to deal with Pasminco’s toxic legacy.

This follows a joint Newcastle Herald and Macquarie University investigation that found alarming levels of lead and other heavy metals in homes and public places around the former Pasminco smelter.

Lake Macquarie councillor Daniel Wallace, who is also Newcastle Trades Hall secretary, said toxic soil should be removed ‘‘if there’s any chance it’s hazardous’’.

‘‘To hear reports now there’s no safe level of lead exposure – that pulls at your heart strings,’’ Cr Wallace said. ‘‘People have been lied to.’’

Deputy mayor Wendy Harrison said ‘‘the levels in the soil are disturbing’’.

Cr Harrison said it was  important  to  do much more testing, including ‘‘an extensive sample of kids’ blood levels in the area’’. 

Cr Wallace said government bodies must ‘‘do an analysis of where they’ve failed over time and what systems they can put in place’’.

As previously reported, the state government approved a Lead Abatement Strategy to deal with polluted residential land.

Macquarie University Professor Mark Patrick Taylor blasted the strategy as a failure.

Cr Wallace said the strategy appeared to be designed to save as much money as possible.

He said Pasminco should have been made to set aside ‘‘some money in perpetuity during the good years’’ for required clean-ups.

Councillor Barry Johnston said residents’ comments about the strategy ‘‘raise a lot of concern’’ about its effectiveness.

Cr Harrison said the strategy ‘‘seemed to be an ad-hoc process’’.

Pasminco administrator Ferrier Hodgson conducted the strategy and the NSW Environment Protection Authority approved it.

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