New measures to manage lead legacy in Lake Macquarie
Lake Macquarie residents will be able to dispose of their lead-contaminated soil at the Summerhill Waste Management Facility landfill from February next year, following the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) response to recommendations published in the Lead Expert Working Group’s (LEWG) report.
The new disposal option is the result of an agreement between the EPA and Newcastle City Council.
The EPA welcomed the Lead Expert Working Group’s report and recommendations to manage lead contamination associated with the former Pasminco lead smelter in Boolaroo.
EPA Chair and CEO Barry Buffier said the new disposal option and the progression of the LEWG report were important steps for the community of North Lake Macquarie.
“We want residents to enjoy a high quality of life and not be disadvantaged by the history of where they live. The recommendations in the LEWG report work to achieve that,” Mr Buffier said.
“Until now, North Lake Macquarie residents have had to bear the cost of transporting contaminated soil to Sydney when it was removed from their properties. This new, local disposal option will mean residents have an affordable and safe way to remove contaminated soil.”
The report details expert recommendations for health, development and future funding to address the long-term management of lead-related contamination caused by the former lead smelter.
The LEWG, established by the EPA in 2014, includes representatives from the EPA, NSW Health, Lake Macquarie City Council, contaminated land management professionals and academia.
The EPA is reviewing the report and its recommendations and will present it to the Minister for the Environment for consideration in early 2017.
Chairman of the Lead Community Reference Group and Independent Member for Lake Macquarie Greg Piper welcomed the LEWG report.
“I believe the community will be pleased with these recommendations,” Mr Piper said.
“I’m particularly pleased that the EPA has released its report and is moving to establish a local repository for contaminated soil from the former Pasminco smelter.
“The cost to home owners of disposing of this material right now is very high, so it is understandable that it’s been one of the major issues raised by the community.”
The Lead Expert Working Group report has identified actions that can be taken to manage immediate and long-term issues associated with contaminated land. These recommendations include:
- Establishment of a grant fund to assist land owners with the costs of managing legacy lead issues
- Lake Macquarie City Council to provide a central point of contact for the community regarding lead management in the area
- NSW Health to continue enhanced surveillance for notification of blood lead levels of 5 ug/dL or more that trigger public health investigations
- Ongoing monitoring of surface water and groundwater around the smelter site and in Lake Macquarie
- Establishing streamlined planning and disposal processes to minimise the costs to land owners of redeveloping properties affected by legacy contamination
For factsheets on lead safety in matters of building, gardening, cleaning and more, visit www.epa.nsw.gov.au/pesticides/lead-safety.htm and leadsmart.nsw.gov.au/
More information contaminated land in the Lake Macquarie region is available on the Lake Macquarie Council website at https://lakemac.com.au/environment/natural/contaminated-land