The Pasminco Cockle Creek site was closed on 12 September 2003.
Operations began at Cockle Creek in March 1897 with the establishment of an orthodox lead smelter, making it the Hunter Region`s first heavy industrial site.
Since its closure Pasminco Cockle Creek Smelter Pty Limited (Subject to a Deed of Company Arrangement) (`PCCS`) is continuing with a number of activities.
Fitzwalter Group Property Consultants, Project and Development Managers, (part of the WSP Group) were appointed in November 2003 for the management of the remediation and redevelopment of the site.
The Fitzwalter Group's initial task was primarily to develop a remediation strategy and identify future land uses acceptable to the authorities together with the management of site operations and deliverables.
In undertaking the above, investigations and assessments for the future long term use of the site were commissioned with studies including environmental and geotechnical investigations, flora and fauna, heritage, industrial archaeology, visual analysis and urban design.
The above studies led to the submission of an application by the Deed Administrators under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act for the remediation of the site, and provided background and supporting information to the Lake Macquarie City Council who are now preparing a Local Environmental Study to support the rezoning of a significant portion of the site for residential and industrial land uses. Environmental approval for the Part 3A application was awarded in February 2007, allowing remediation works to commence subject to the conditions of the approval.
The site is situated approximately 13 kilometres south-west of Newcastle and 2 kilometres north of the nearest shore of Lake Macquarie adjacent to the township of Boolaroo in New South Wales. The main site is bounded to the south by First Street, to the west by Main Road, to the north by a branch line of the Main Northern Railway line and to the east by the slopes of Munibung Hill.
The site covers an approximate area of 191 hectares and is situated in the Lake Macquarie City Council ('LMCC') Local Government Area. PCCS also owns a number of residential properties in First and Second Streets, Boolaroo and land zoned 10 Investigation Zone in the LMCC LEP 2004, located between Main Road 217 and Main Road, Boolaroo.
Incitec Fertilisers Limited (Incitec) owns a fertiliser factory on about 16 hectares of land to the east of the site. Incitec ceased operations in February 2009.
Site Boundaries Plan
The Environment Protection Authority (EPA) issued a Remediation Order ('RO') to PCCS on 1 July 2003. The RO declared the site, in part, as a ‘remediation site’ and in doing so determined the site represented a Significant Risk of Harm (‘SRoH’), as defined in the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997.
The (RO) effectively required the preparation of a Remedial Action Plan (‘RAP’) that addressed the SRoH issues and the implementation of the remediation measures identified in the RAP. The (RO) required the engagement of a site auditor accredited under the Contaminated Land Management Act. In response to the RO, Dr Bill Ryall (Accreditation No.9809) employed by ENSR Australia Pty Ltd (HLA ENSR) was engaged as the site auditor. In August 2008, Dr Bill Ryall withdrew from being an Auditor and Graeme Nyland (Accreditation No. 9808) of Environ was then appointed to fulfill this role.
The two main areas of concern for the EPA consist of the migration of air borne dust containing lead and the migration of lead, zinc, cadmium and manganese from the site via the surface water and groundwater.
Remedial Action Plan (RAP)
The RAP addresses the SRoH issues, based on the current industrial site usage, as required in the EPA's RO. The purpose of the RAP is to document the possible extent of contamination on-site relative to SRoH, address these contamination issues and provide recommended remedial actions so that the site no longer represents a SRoH and is suitable for ongoing industrial land use.
As part of the generation of the RAP, all available historical information and contamination data was examined.
The review of data revealed the major pathways contributing to SRoH at the site, in its current non-operational state, are:
· Surface water overflows from dam systems, generally only associated with significant rainfall;
· Dust from the northern waste disposal areas (known as the slag stockpiles); and
· Groundwater migration.
Note that soil contamination is not considered a SRoH issue based on the current site usage however, contamination of the soil will be addressed in the development of the total site remediation strategy.
PCCS has been undertaking various actions to clean up the site in response to the Remediation Order including dust control, removal of materials from the site for reuse, demolition of the plant and environmental management of surface and groundwater.
Furthermore, PCCS investigated the best means to remediate the site. After considering a range of options and having sought appropriate technical advice and the views of government on the regulations, the most appropriate remediation methodology for the site’s slag materials and contaminated soils had been determined to be containing them in a cell on the site.
Subsequently preliminary concept design studies were completed which determined the engineering and environmental requirements for the construction of the containment cell as the central component of the proposed on-site remediation strategy.
Expressions of Interest were sought from qualified parties in May 2005 to participate in the remediation, redevelopment and/or realisation of the site. This process followed extensive consultation with various government authorities and community groups. The ongoing remediation of the site remained a key objective and ensured the best interests of the environment and surrounding community were taken into consideration.
A formal submission to the Minister for Planning under Part 3A of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 to obtain approval for the remediation project was made in July 2006. The submission outlined the proposed remediation strategy for the PCCS site.
The submission was placed on public exhibition during August and September 2006. Several submissions were received and comments were provided back to the Department of Planning.
A Community Information Open Day was also held at the Boolaroo Public School as part of the community consultation for the Part 3A application process. There were a total of 22 visitors on the day.
The core component of the strategy involves the construction of an on-site containment cell which will predominantly house the existing slag mounds located on the site plus other contaminated material from other parts of the site.
The application sought to obtain approval from the Minister for Planning for works including:
1. The staged remediation of PCCS owned lands at Boolaroo;
2. The acceptance onto the Main Site of certain specified waste materials from nominated residential properties in Boolaroo, Speers Point and Argenton (and possibly from the Incitec Fertilisers Limited site at Boolaroo);
3. The construction of a containment cell on the Main Site for the receipt and long term storage of materials arising from the sources noted above; and
4. The associated environmental controls and site management during and after remediation.
The various site areas have been remediated and will soon be available for development for the future uses of industrial, commercial, residential and open space. Open Space will be the only land use permitted on the cell.
Approval of the Remediation Project was granted 27 February 2007.
The Remediation Project was completed in 2015.
A copy of the Environmental Assessment Report prepared in support of the Remediation Project can be downloaded at http://majorprojects.planning.nsw.gov.au
A major milestone in the redevelopment of the site has been achieved with the completion of demolition activities. The demolition of the lead and zinc smelter’s plant and associated buildings was completed in October 2006.
Taking more than 18 months to complete, all plant and buildings have now been removed with the exception of the Old Laboratory, the Effluent Treatment Plant, the Main Administration Building and the Gate House.
The demolition of the plant and buildings allowed the Deed Administrators to move into the remediation phase of the project. Below are photos of the site
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