RESIDENTS living around the former Boolaroo lead smelter may be able to dispose of lead contaminated soil for free in the future.
Waiving the Environmental Protection Authority waste levy is one of several options under consideration for the disposal of contaminated soil after the closure of the Boolaroo containment cell next month.
‘‘We are looking at the most viable alternatives for the future disposal of lead contaminated soil,’’ EPA Hunter Region manager Adam Gilligan said.
‘‘At the same time we want to keep the cost of disposal down for residents.’’
Residents have been able to dump lead contaminated soil in the containment cell on the former smelter site in recent years as part of the site’s rehabilitation.
The Newcastle Herald reported last month that some residents could be forced to pay up to $80,000 to clear their land of contaminated soils under existing disposal regulations.
Mr Gilligan said the EPA and Lake Macquarie Council had collected samples of lead contaminated soils in public areas in Boolaroo and surrounds on Monday.
‘‘We want to get an indication of what sorts of soil contamination levels we could be looking at in the future,’’ he said.
The results will be used to determine the nature of landfill required to manage the material to ensure the safety of the community and environment.
It is also intended to develop a classification approach to assist in the determination of the most effective disposal option.
Waiving waste levy would encourage residents to take contaminated waste to an approved disposal centre.
A similar strategy has been effective for the disposal of asbestos.
A joint Newcastle Herald and Macquarie University investigation conducted last year found lead in soil levels of up to 4230 parts per million. Levels over 300 are regarded as potentially hazardous.
The sampling results showed that more than half of the public spaces and all but one of the 19 homes sampled had potentially dangerous lead levels.