Clean up process begins on contaminated Urunga site

Planning the remediation work on the Urunga antimony contaminated site is underway.The NSW Government has begun planning the remediation work on the Urunga antimony contaminated site.

General Manager of Crown Lands, Graham Harding, said the site, adjacent to the Pacific Highway 1.5km from the centre of Urunga, was significantly contaminated by historical activities including antimony ore crushing and processing.

“While the processing activities occurred on private land many years ago, the waste material spread over time and has impacted on an adjoining wetland, which is Crown land,” Mr Harding said.

“Detailed investigations into the extent and nature of contamination were undertaken by the then Department of Land and Water Conservation.

“These investigations showed the estimated 9000m3 of tailings, which cover over a hectare of the site, contained high levels of contaminants including antimony, arsenic, copper, lead, zinc, chromium and mercury,” he said.

Mr Harding said officers from the Soil Conservation Service have been engaged to manage Stage 1 of the project, which is developing the remediation action plan.

They will be on site over the coming weeks carrying out investigation work.

In 2011, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) sought to place a remediation order upon the private owner of the site, which resulted in an agreement to transfer the ownership of the land to the State to enable remediation to occur.

The Department of Primary Industries Catchments and Lands Division is responsible for the remediation, in collaboration with the EPA, Bellingen Shire Council and other government agencies, and will identify the most cost effective and efficient remediation program for the site.

A process is also being developed to assist in keeping the community informed of the progress of the project.

The Environmental Trust and the NSW Trade and Investment Derelict Mines Program have each given conditional agreement to fund up to $700,000 towards the remediation project, with investigation and planning activities now underway and on-site remediation works are expected to start in 2013.

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