Lead soil disposal update for North Lake Macquarie residents

Residents in North Lake Macquarie can now dispose of their soil at most licenced landfills, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Executive Director Hazardous Incidents and Environmental Health Stephen Beaman advised today.

“This reclassification follows testing by the NSW Environment Protection Authority, assisted by Lake Macquarie City Council, which found that the lead was immobilised in the soil and not at risk of leaching when placed in a landfill,” Mr Beaman said.

“The soil has now been classified General Solid Waste – commonly known as general household waste – and residents can now use any landfill licensed to receive general household waste, rather than only using the Summerhill Waste Treatment Facility.”

Mr Beaman said that EPA testing was a two-stage process starting with an analysis of soil contamination levels at more than 60 locations in the affected area around the former Pasminco smelter in Boolaroo, using a handheld analyser.

Forty-eight samples were then collected from sites where elevated lead was detected, with laboratory analysis showing the leachability of lead in the soil was very low.

“This confirmed that the lead was effectively immobilised and is suitable for disposal in a lined landfill,” Mr Beaman said.

“The new arrangement provides closer-to-home disposal options for residents removing soil during renovations or major works at home.

“I want to thank Newcastle City Council for making the Summerhill Waste Treatment Facility available over the past couple of years to receive and contain this waste. This was an important interim measure while additional testing and permanent options for disposal were being investigated.”

While the soil meets the requirements for land-filling as general solid waste, lead contamination in these soils may still be above Council’s contamination threshold for development works.  Council has more information on managing contaminated land on their website.

The new approach does not apply to black slag material which will need to be managed on a case-by-case basis.

The EPA will continue to waive the waste levy (currently $143 per tonne) for residents disposing of lead contaminated soil from within the ‘lead grid’ area.  Normal waste disposal charges of landfill operators (gate fees) may still apply.