Council received a letter from the EPA on 6 June 2016 advising that, in the late 19th and early 20th century, there may have been gasworks infrastructure on land bounded by High Street, Turton Rd and Georgetown Road in Waratah.
The Waratah properties had never been flagged in Council records as a former gasworks.
Council’s consultants collected samples from 20 properties in the initial investigations in August.
Further detailed investigations will now be done to get a better understanding of the nature and extent of gasworks-related substances, and what mitigation measures, if any, may be needed.
The full extent of contamination is not yet known. The second stage of investigations will reveal the full extent and until then, it's not possible to determine what remediation might be required.
Council resolved to award a contract for further investigation at its December meeting, with the next round of testing expected to start early in the New Year.
In line with best practice, further testing will include additional soil, groundwater and vapour sampling and take in some parts of public land within 500m of the gasworks footprint.
Council has provided properties within the investigation area with an update on the investigations and will continue to update residents and landowners throughout this process to ensure they are provided with test results and any other relevant information.
Council is liaising with the NSW Environment Protection Authority and Hunter New England Local Health District to ensure any health and environmental concerns are addressed.
As an interim measure, Council and NSW Health have provided the following precautionary advice for occupiers of properties within or adjacent to the area:
People are advised not to eat any vegetables grown at the properties or eggs laid by hens there until further advice is provided.
* Avoid having areas of bare soil by maintaining grass cover or otherwise covering bare areas.
* Minimise exposure to soil during gardening activities by minimising dust generation, wearing gloves and washing hands after handling soil.
* If children are playing in sand pits or soil, it is advised that this occur in a raised bed or structure above the natural ground level. The raised bed or structure should contain sand or soil that has not been sourced from onsite so as to avoid any potential contamination.