Q. Are more tests being carried out in Captains Flat?
A. Yes. On 2 February 2021, the NSW EPA started testing soil from publicly owned land in Captains Flat, including the school, community hall and parks. The NSW EPA is also available to test privately owned properties.
Q. Why are more tests being done?
A. While elevated levels of lead in and around the site of a former lead-producing mine are not unexpected, the NSW Government wants to investigate levels of lead beyond the former mine site and rail corridor.
If the results show elevated levels, the NSW Government will work with the community to ensure they know what actions they can take to live safely with lead.
Q. Why is the testing being done now?
A. Testing carried out by Transport for NSW identified elevated levels of lead in parts of the Captains Flat rail corridor beside the former Lake George Mine. This is likely the result of material extracted from the mine being loaded into rail tracks for transportation. Following the testing of the rail corridor and to keep the community in Captains Flat safe, the NSW Government is carrying out similar testing of public land and private properties to investigate levels of lead.
Q. What are the results of the EPA testing?
A.The EPA carried out 60 tests across two days in Captains Flat (2-3 February). Tests carried out in the northern part of the village generally returned low readings, except for the park on the corner of Foxlow and Spring streets. In the southern part of the village closer to the former mine, readings were elevated for lead at some locations, including on the roadside on Foxlow Street between the Captains Flat Hotel and the Captains Flat Fire Station, and at the preschool.
Q. What action has been taken to keep the children who attend the preschool safe?
A. The preschool’s management committee has decided to close while they carry out precautionary measures to remove any potential risk to the children and their carers. This includes vacuuming with a HEPA filtered vacuum, and wet mopping and wiping all internal surfaces. The NSW Government is working closely with the preschool and have committed to cap the play area with topsoil and turf where the elevated lead levels were detected.
Q. What action will be taken at the public sites where elevated lead has been detected?
A. Further analysis of the tests taken on public land will be carried out and the results shared with the landowner (i.e. council or Crown Lands) to consider appropriate action.
Q. Can I get my property tested for lead?
A. Yes. Landholders can contact the NSW EPA for free soil testing. The EPA are also happy to collect a rainwater tank sample if the tank is accessible. To enquire or arrange a test please contact the EPA Environment Line on 131 555.
Q. How long do the tests take? When will the results be available?
A. Using specialist equipment, the NSW EPA will screen soil to get an early indication of lead levels at the time of testing. If elevated levels are indicated, soil will be sent to a lab for further testing to confirm the level of lead. Landholders that consent to soil testing on their land will be provided with a report within six weeks from testing.
Q. Will the results be made public?
A. All results from the rail corridor and public lands testing will be shared. Results from private properties will be shared with the landowner, and with the local council and NSW Government agencies involved in managing lead in Captains Flat with the consent of the landowner.
Q. If an elevated level of lead is found on my property, what happens next?
A. If elevated lead levels are discovered on your property, the NSW EPA will help you understand the results and practical things you can do around your home or business to minimise your exposure to lead, such as washing your hands regularly or covering patches of bare soil with grass or mulch to prevent dust.