On June 6 this year the Mercury revealed that Lend Lease and the Port Kembla Port Corporation had struck a deal to use up to 600,000 tonnes of material from Sydney’s Barangaroo construction site for land reclamation at Port Kembla.
Our exclusive report also revealed that the excavation site was peppered with contamination “hot spots” containing high concentrations of copper, zinc, lead and chemicals.
Under the deal, Land Lease would save millions of dollars in disposal costs but also be responsible for testing the soil before it left Barangaroo.
The Mercury was loudly criticised for ringing the alarm bells and we were told that everything would be OK and no contaminated soil would find its way to Port Kembla.
Well, guess what? Everything is not OK and contaminated soil has found its way to our port.
An inspection by port and Environment Protection Authority (EPA) officers has discovered the first 15,000 tonnes to land at Port Kembla contains asbestos.
How could this happen when we were assured that stringent testing would take place before any soil was moved to Port Kembla?
EPA chair Barry Buffier said he was disappointed by the situation. So he should be because it has only heightened the fears of unions and residents who have been unhappy with the arrangement from day one.
There are serious health risks surrounding the deal.
The soil should be loaded back onto the ship and returned to Sydney, where Lend Lease can organise its safe disposal. The people of Wollongong will simply not tolerate our city being used as a dumping ground.
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