Toxic, contaminated soil to be removed after landslide
AS THE result of a landslip in the wake of Cyclone Debbie, toxic heavy metals and asbestos have been discovered on a block of land in the heart of Lismore, within a stone's throw of Lismore Base Hospital.
The slip was so severe that one of the houses on Beardow St is not accessible by car and is now up for sale, and the soil was found too contaminated to be disposed of in Northern NSW, so remains idle on a Lismore Heights block while council awaits funding to remove it.
Restoration works on privately owned land at 22 New Ballina Road involving the excavation of the landslip and reformation of the embankment along Beardow St began in August 2018, but works halted when historic industrial waste including coke and slag like materials, as well as bonded asbestos, was encountered.
Tests found concentrations of some chemicals in soils within the embankment exceeded the levels safe for current and future land uses, and the material was unsuitable for disposal to landfill facilities in northern NSW.
Lismore City Council's civic services manager Darren Patch said it was likely the site had been contaminated for more than 40 years.
"Council was not aware of the contaminated soil issue until bulk earthworks commenced for the landslip restoration works,' Mr Patch said.
"Site contamination is from illegal dumping by persons unknown at the subject location - we believe it has been ongoing for several decades."
The council received $1.1 million from the State Government under the Natural Disaster Recovery and Relief Arrangements (NDRRA) for the landslip restoration, but works stopped in December because additional funding was needed to rectify contamination.
Mr Patch said a response from the RMS was expected within a few weeks and, once funding is secured, works will re-commence for a duration of about eight weeks.
Several homes sit directly below the site and Mr Patch said nearby residents had been well-informed of the works since the contamination was discovered.
"Landholders were provided with weekly updates from Council in the lead-up to Christmas on the progress of this project. Council is now issuing fortnightly updates as the work has currently ceased.
"The site has been assessed by external consultants where it was deemed there was a low risk that any site contaminants could become airborne, hence there is low risk to the local community.
"There is currently no plans to conduct testing on any of the surrounding properties due to the determination of low risk of contaminants leaving the site."
He said the area will remain as road reserve, supporting the roadway above (Beardow Street) while the area on private property is associated with a private subdivision/development.