Around the regions
A round-up of some of the great work happening around the state from a remediated gas works in the city, to a salinity trading scheme auction in the Hunter and an aquatic ecosystem study in the south.
Former Barangaroo Gasworks cleaned up
Officer wears HAZMAT suit to clean up gasworks site, Barangaroo
Maria Bowen reports from the EPA’s Metropolitan Branch:
The contamination of the former gasworks near the King St Wharf end of Hickson Rd, Barangaroo in Sydney has been successfully remediated thanks to Infrastructure NSW and effective regulation by the EPA.
The remediation was challenging. It involved cleaning out a large area and taking major steps to contain very smelly odours from tar as it was dug up and carted out to minimise the impacts on neighbours, including residents. It also involved the removal of an old tar tank and gasholders, below a major road in a busy area.
This remediation has provided useful lessons and trial findings which will be used to regulate future remediation sites.
There were lessons learned from a trial of groundwater oxidation to enable tar, oil and sludge recovery – which was partially successful – and from the use of groundwater retention systems in a tidally influenced environment.
The EPA has lifted the contaminated land declaration and Infrastructure NSW completed the remediation ahead of schedule. This enables reuse of the land earlier than anticipated and minimises the duration of road closures.
Recipe to help keep the Hunter River fresher – limit the salt
Hunter River benefits from salinity trading scheme
Gina Bradley reports from the EPA’s Newcastle office
In May 2020, the EPA hosted the Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme’s biennial credit auction, giving registered industrial operator bidders the opportunity to buy salt discharge credits by lodging their bids online.
The Hunter River Salinity Trading Scheme was established in 1995 to reduce salt levels in the Hunter River and protect the region’s most precious natural resource.
The scheme uses an innovative, market-based system of salt credits that companies can bid for and then use to discharge their salty water, but only when the river contains enough fresh water to dilute the salt and maintain water quality.
All 200 of the available salt credits were purchased by six bidders representing mining and power generation facilities that operate in the Hunter Valley. These credits replace the 200 credits that expired on 30 June 2020. The auction raised 67%t more than the income generated in the 2018 auction. This revenue will be used to offset the costs of the scheme.
Researching impacts of bushfires on aquatic ecosystems
Testing aquatic health after the bushfires on NSW's South Coast
Nigel Sargent reports from the EPA’s Queanbeyan office
Many catchments were badly affected by the 2019-20 bushfires and heavy rainfall during winter may have washed debris, ash, sediment and burnt material into waterways downstream, following larger than usual flows in creeks, streams and rivers.
The EPA and other agencies and teams in the Department of Industry Planning and Environment collaborated in August to sample water quality in several south coast catchments after the heavy rains.
EPA staff from the Queanbeyan office worked with staff from Marine Parks and Energy Environment and Science, Economics and Insights to collect samples from fire-affected catchments, including Lake Conjola, Durras Lake and Lake Tabourie, and the Clyde, Moruya and Tuross rivers.
This data should make a significant contribution to research on how bushfires impact aquatic ecosystem health, improve our understanding of the impact of bushfires to the values of the NSW marine estate, and help us to understand for how long burnt material continues to shift into catchments affected by bushfires. This research and knowledge will help to inform management and mitigation responses by regulators, local government and land managers.
The EPA marked National Science Week in August by profiling some of our many experienced technical and scientific officers – see more in News Round!