The Evans Head aerodrome in the 1940s, showing the 17 Bellman hangars (closest to the airstrip) which are probably the source o
The Evans Head aerodrome in the 1940s, showing the 17 Bellman hangars (closest to the airstrip) which are probably the source o

Council report favours $6.3m airport clean-up

By JAMIE BROWN

RICHMOND Valley Council is on the cusp of finalising several detailed reports into contamination of land in and around the Evans Head aerodrome.

The council will be asked today to release these reports as soon as they are available.

Council staff have also asked councillors to endorse the most expensive clean-up option: $6.3 million to scrape a metre of sandy, contaminated soil off the top of the aerodrome and dispose of it safely before spreading clean soil on the site.

Contaminants include coal-tar based asphalt, sprayed on hangar aprons to dampen dust, plus the remains of lead-based paints.

Council general manager Brian Wilkinson said contamination was found while testing was carried out on aerodrome land surrounding the council depot ? itself an old Bellman hangar.

When tests started showing traces of hydro- carbons not associated with council work, further work revealed the extent of contamination.

To date, the council has spent $500,000 on the environmental tests.

While contaminated soil no doubt extends the length and breadth of the old aerodrome footprint ? across 12 separately-created housing subdivisions ? Mr Wilkinson said the council could not simply march onto private land and start testing.

However, tests are planned following the release of more reports and after residents agree to a testing process.

"We are taking a precautionary approach," Mr Wilkinson said. "We may find that most subdivision lots had fill spread on them and contaminated soil may be deep enough to not pose a problem."

To date, the Ballina Ex-Servicemen's Home remains interested in developing an aged-care home on aerodrome land.



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