Each weekday, on my cycle commute to work , I pass the old gasworks site in Hamilton North. Jemena, the current owners of the land are in the process of remediating the site to deal with the nasty chemicals left behind from years of turning coal into town gas. So when I saw that Jemena were holding a community consultation session about the project in my local bowling club, I thought I’d summon up my ‘inner MacLean’ and pop in to see what’s happening.
As an engaged citizen interacting with a corporate behemoth, I felt a vague obligation to be angry, disputatious and reactionary. But as they explained that the Stage 2 remediation consists of a ‘cap and contain’ scheme of building a 9 metre deep wall near the western boundary to stop groundwater passing through the site into Styx Creek, along with a water impervious cover to stop rainwater infiltration, my main reaction was “That sounds like a good idea.”
The currently planned schedule (subject to jumping through all the right bureaucratic hoops in a timely fashion) is for the Stage 2 remediation construction to start in late 2018 and to be completed in early 2020. And I’ll get to watch (and smell) it each day as I cycle past.
Although the community consultation session was about the remediation of the site, and not what might be done with the site afterwards, I still put forward my dream of a cycleway along the creek one day.
Did you know the cap and contain solution is the cheap option? The other method they looked at was to extract the gunk (largely coal-tar), take it somewhere and incinerate it, leaving a much cleaner and potentially useable site. But that would have cost upwards of $20m. Meanwhile the creosote-smelling tar is leaking directly into Styx Creek. You can even smell it downstream at the entry into Throsby Creek if there is no wind. I hope the 9m barrier actually works. Forever? Hmmm.
I also hope the ‘cap and contain’ barrier works, but also that there is sufficient regulatory controls in place that if it doesn’t work, that Jemena (or subsequent owners) are still responsible for fixing it.
Hi, just discovered your wonderful site and superb research and have enjoyed looking at and sharing the many mysteries investigated and solved by you with the family. Just wondering what you know or can help with information on Waratah gasworks? Thanks for any advice in advance.
I’ve gathered what little information I know about the Waratah gasworks into a new blog post.
Your “inner MacLean”: ba ha ha!
Thanks for the post, Lachlan. I don’t think it’s fruitless to demand things like cycleways, boardwalks, bird hides and so on. We must keep badgering them for this.