Clarence Valley Council issued a media release in February this year, titled ‘Warning of misleading claims from petitioners’, in which, among other issues, the general manager, Scott Greensill, stated: “Some of the reports we have had are disturbing.”
Paraphrasing a resident concerned about the alleged petitioning, Mr Greensill wrote: “She said he [the petitioner] told her the council was going to dump asbestos waste near the South Grafton High School [at the site of the new depot currently under construction] and that children were going to die from it.
“That is a completely irresponsible claim.”
Yesterday at CVC’s November meeting documents were tabled that show that, to date, 900 kilograms of asbestos containing material (ACM), in the form of asbestos cement pipes, has been sieved from 4,000 cubic metres of fill that has been dumped at the site over recent decades.
Minutes of a Project Control Group (PCG) meeting, as attached to the CVC meeting business paper, state: “All asbestos and contaminants have been managed in accordance with the Site Management Plans.”
The PCG minutes also state that other waste material discovered “in the fill has included large pieces of concrete, asbestos pipe, tires and car parts, chain wire fencing and road markers”, which accounted for 30 per cent of the total stockpile.
“The actual level of waste in the stockpiles would have been difficult to define but the estimates in the RAP [remediation action plan] were significantly lower than actual,” the PCG minutes state.
Investigations by Hutchison Builders, the contractor in charge of the project, have revealed that the “stockpiles detailed in the RAP and previous reports provided to Council have grown since the reports and, in many instances, are on top of existing stockpiles.
“This means that what has been assumed to be natural ground is actually uncontrolled fill.
“….The high level of organic material in the fill sifted thus far indicates risks with re-use of the material below the stockpiles and the significant amount of waste in the material will make it difficult to work with.
“In addition there is likely to be further asbestos in this material.
“…In accordance with their obligations the 3rd Party Auditor has notified EPA of the uncontrolled fill and asbestos materials that have been dumped on the site.
“EPA has contacted Council with regards to this and an initial response provided.
“The response was high level and further information is likely to be required by EPA.”
These ‘discoveries’, the PCG minutes state, could result in a variation to the contract of “$1million to $1.4million” if the ‘cleaned’ stockpile is retained and buried on site, however, “this option may not be acceptable to EPA and further advice from EPA may be required”.
“The potential costs for removing all of the uncontrolled fill and bio-solids will be in the order of $2m to 2.5m,” the PCG minutes state.
However, these costs would have had to have been met by CVC in any case, as it is bound to remediate the former sewerage treatment plant irrespective of a depot being constructed or not – and will be paid for out of the council’s sewer fund.
Meanwhile, the report to council states that “discovery and rectification of latent conditions will have an approximate 3 month delay to the overall construction programme”.
Four weeks of this delay was a result of the Parsons Brinckerhoff “RAP report and Technical specification reports [having] not been completed in accordance with EPA requirements”.
The report to council notes: “There remains a risk that NSW EPA may take action toward Council with regard to uncontrolled waste being placed at the site.”
And: “It is proposed that Council assess its options at a future date with regard to the suitability and validity of the RAP … there are numerous discrepancies and inadequacies associated with the document…”