EPA refutes Sun Herald claims of contamination cover-up

Chair and CEO of the NSW EPA, Mr Barry Buffier, strongly refutes any claims of a cover-up with regard to low levels of contaminants found at a Sydney Water easement, not a children's playground as depicted in today's Sun Herald story.

"We have had a long and detailed engagement with Mr Andrew Helps about legacy contamination of the Orica botany site and surrounding residential areas. He has been undertaking his own testing but will not release full details about his sampling techniques or locations to the EPA,” Mr Buffier said.

"The EPA undertook its own sampling and testing in surrounding residential areas and our results do not support Mr Helps’ claims. The EPA tested for HCBs but also for a range of other contaminants – including heavy metals (such as mercury) and PCBs.

"The facts are:

  1. The EPAs tests confirmed that contaminants HCBs, metals and mercury are below the health investigation levels.
  2. Some tests for PCBs on the Sydney water easement were at the health investigation levels and the EPA instructed Sydney Water to undertake further testing of the site.
  3. The EPA publicly communicated the outcomes from it's testing.
  4. We are awaiting final results from Sydney Water but we understand their preliminary results support our actions.

"The EPA carefully considered all of our own test results and consulted with NSW Health, who advised that the results were highly unlikely to have any health impacts.

"Contrary to today's claims made in the Sun Herald we have found nothing at levels “well above health limits".

“The report in today's Sun Herald and the comments attributed to Mr Helps misrepresent the facts. It is alarmist misinformation and the EPAs testing and analysis does not support his claims.

“The playground depicted in today’s story with children playing in it, is not the Sydney Water easement where EPA testing has been undertaken and was not associated with any elevated test results.

“In my opinion this is sensationalist reporting that causes unnecessary concern in the community.
We have responded in detail to Mr Helps on many occasions. I am releasing today the most recent correspondence from The Chief Environmental Regulator, Mr Mark Gifford to Mr Helps to provide further clarity.”