Aerodrome clean-up plea
By HELEN JACK
RICHMOND Valley Council is calling on the Federal Government to urgently help with the $6 million clean-up of the contaminated Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome site.
Council's general manager, Brian Wilkinson, said that Defence Minister Brendan Nelson had been alerted to a study that had found coal, tar, chemicals and heavy metals used during World War II in soil and groundwater at the site.
"We have requested an urgent meeting for next Friday, March 23, to ask for significant Federal Government assistance," Mr Wilkinson said.
"The Federal Government has said it will respond within three months, but that's too slow. Ratepayers cannot afford the price tag for this environmental problem caused some 60 years ago."
However, Evans Head resident John Bruce thinks the contamination warning is all a 'storm in a teacup'.
"I think Richmond Valley Council's reaction is overkill," Mr Bruce said.
Last week, 270 Evans Head residents were letter-dropped by council informing them their land was once part of the Evans Head aerodrome in the 1940s and was contaminated.
"If they thought it was serious residents would have been notified by a properlyaddressed letter," Mr Bruce said.
"I have lived here 34 years and I never knew ? no-one talked about it."
Meanwhile, neighbour Ray Evans said he only found out about the letter on Saturday morning.
"I think they should have done more testing before they let people build here," he said.
Council's letter, addressed 'Dear Resident', also said that after the aerodrome was
decommissioned, parts were used by the council as a depot and others for industrial and residential development.
Tests were performed by Coffey Environments on soil, drainage sediments, drainage surface water and groundwater on the existing aerodrome site, but the aerodrome extended over a wider area of land in the 1940s.
Private land since developed for residential or industrial purposes has not been tested.
Council will hold a series of meetings to discuss the issue, while construction of an aged-care facility on the site by the Ballina Ex-Services Homes has been put on hold.