Historical Waratah gasworks investigation completed

17 Dec 2017

The detailed environmental investigation at the historical Waratah gasworks site is now complete and the report on the investigation is in the final stages of a comprehensive, independent review and approval process which includes the Site Auditor, NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA), and Hunter New England Local Health District (HNELHD).

The works have been undertaken by an independent environmental consultant, engaged by Newcastle City Council (Council) to investigate an area in Waratah where a small gasworks operated in the late 19th and early 20th century.

The investigation found elevated results of a combination of substances associated with historical gasworks activities across some properties, consistent with the area where the former gasworks structure is understood to have been located. The investigation confirmed that the main pathway for potential exposure to gasworks substances at these properties is through direct contact with shallow soil.

Results from samples collected from properties outside the former gasworks infrastructure area, and in the wider Investigation area, including the Family Centre and Waratah Technology Campus, were significantly lower, and are considered to be typical of background conditions within the local Waratah area, and not related to former gasworks activity. Further investigation or remediation is not required in these areas as gasworks indicator substances were typically absent.

“Council met with residents in October 2017, to provide the sampling results for their properties and discuss the next steps, now that the environmental investigation is complete,” Council interim CEO Jeremy Bath said.

“A key recommendation of the investigation was to undertake a Remediation Options Assessment for properties with elevated results. In November 2017, Council met with those property owners individually to discuss possible remediation options and management measures that may be appropriate for their specific properties. as part of developing the Remediation Options Assessment. Council is committed to working closely with affected property owners to respond to the findings of the investigation,” said Mr Bath.

The detailed environmental investigation was undertaken from December 2016 to October 2017, and involved installing groundwater and soil vapour monitoring wells on selected properties and collecting more than 300 soil, vapour and groundwater samples from private and public land.

Given the industrial history of the local Waratah area, samples were collected from beyond the investigation area up to 500 metres from the gasworks site, to characterise typical background substances that may be present from man-made sources other than the former gasworks.

Council is continuing to liaise with the NSW EPA and HNELHD, and will continue to seek their advice to ensure any health and environmental concerns are addressed.

Further information about the historical Waratah Gasworks, including detailed frequently asked questions and a map of the investigation area, is available by searching for ‘Waratah Gasworks’ on the Council website.

Advice for residents

During the Investigation, Council and NSW Health provided precautionary advice to residents within the Investigation Area regarding exposure to soil and consuming home grown vegetables and chicken eggs. Now that the Investigation is complete, this precautionary advice does not need to remain in place to mitigate potential exposure to gasworks-related substances for the wider Investigation Area. Council is working one-on-one with property owners where the precautionary advice remains in place.

Further information

For enquiries about the environmental investigation, please contact Council’s Regulatory Services on 02 4974 2522, Monday to Friday, between 8.30am and 5.00pm.

For more information about related matters, please see contact details below:

  • Specific health advice: Your doctor
  • General health information: HNELHD 1300 066 055
  • Other contamination information: NSW EPA Environment Line: 13 15 55.