Why can't the site be left as it is?

    The NSW Government requires all former sewage treatment plant sites to be cleaned up. It can't be left as it is. It must be made clean and safe.

    What contaminants have been found on site?

    Most of the contaminant found so far is concrete, steel and a small amount of  bonded asbestos, which is contained in old concrete pipes that have been dumped on site.

    What is happening with the contaminated material from the site?

    Council was unable to dispose of this material locally because the volume could not be accommodated in local facilities. The nearest licensed facility equipped to handle the volume and types of contaminants is in south east Queensland. All loads are covered and damped down to prevent dust and all work is being supervised by the Environmental Protection Authority.

    How much contaminated material is there?

    Our best estimate at this stage is about 30,000 cubic metres, but it is an estimate. The total quantity won't be known until there is further excavation of the site.

    What is being done to prevent dust leaving the site?

    After the initial findings of bonded asbestos a polymer spray (a glue-type substance) was applied to the entire site. Also, the site is being kept damp with ongoing watering. All vehicles are washed before leaving the contaminated zone.

    How much is the clean up going to cost?

    Not known until there is further excavation of the site ind the amount of contaminated material is known.  It costs about $70 a tonne to dispose of the contaminated material.  There will also be professional costs that are in addition to the cost of disposal.

    Why didn't council know how much contaminated material was on the site?

    Testing was done before the site clean up started and it showed there were contaminants on site. An additional 188 test holes were completed prior to excavation works, but the high volume of vegetation made it difficult to determine the volume of site material. It wasn't until excavation started that the amount of the material became apparent. It appears now that material was dumped on the site over a number of years and records were not kept of what and when it was dumped.

    What is the difference between bonded and friable asbestos?

    Bonded asbestos found on the site  is asbestos that is 'bonded' with other material, such as cement or building products. WorkCover NSW describes friable asbestos as being material that is in a powder form or that can be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand pressure when dry, and contains asbestos. Friable asbestos poses serious health risks.

    Is air monitoring being done around the site?

    Yes, continual air monitoring has been installed at various locations within the site, with results collected daily.

    Who is overseeing the work?

    SafeWork NSW and the Environmental Protection Authority. An independent hygienist is on site daily. An accredited third party auditor, licensed contractors and Council's work health and safety team also oversee the work to ensure the safety of the community.

    Has the school been notified of the work?

    Yes. There is a nominated delegate from the school who attends site meetings and is briefed by the contractors.

    Who do I contact if I have questions?

    Please direct all inquiries to Council's customer service centre on 6643 0200 or council@clarence.nsw.gov.au

    How are the works being funded?

    From council's sewer fund.

    Can an air monitoring device be installed at my residence?

    External air monitoring devices cannot be installed in private residences or public areas. This is because the air monitors are affected by activities that are adjacent to the site such as lawn mowing and other dust causing activities.

    What further testing is being done on site?

    Further detailed soil testing has not been undertaken as the materials are to be removed in situ from the site and will not be further screened or grossly disturbed. The excavation works are being inspected and closely monitored by an independent hygienist, an Environmental Protection Authority accredited site auditor as well as EPA NSW and Safework NSW. Additionally, air monitoring is being undertaken across the site.
    A map showing the location of all testing that has taken place across the site is shown here testing history

    How long is the clean-up expected to take?

    That will depend on how much material needs to be transported from site, but our best estimate is towards the end of January.