NEARLY a decade after Pasminco’s Cockle Creek smelter was closed, work on site remediation is in its final stages.
A high tree-topped bund wall along First Street, Boolaroo, built in the final years of the lead and zinc smelter’s operation was removed earlier this year, restoring the view from the township.
Just one cluster of buildings – a water treatment plant related to the site remediation – remain on the site, although much of the surface is yet to be capped and levelled.
Pasminco went into voluntary administration in 2001 and the closure and remediation have been handled by administrators Ferrier Hodgson.
A spokesman said a lead abatement strategy was about 90per cent finished, with the final eligible properties to be treated in the next month or so.
Remediation of the smelter site was about 85per cent complete and would finish next year.
A triangular lot of land at the Boolaroo end of the site has been earmarked for residential use but the Ferrier Hodgson spokesman confirmed that a joint venture with the McCloy Group to develop the site had been scrapped.
An August letter to Pasminco’s creditors said the ‘‘termination by McCloys was primarily due to their concerns about ongoing litigation’’ between Pasminco and Incitec, a case settled in July.
The administrators said they hoped to get $2.5million for the block but they said land values at Lake Macquarie had ‘‘continued to deteriorate’’ during the year.
Businessman and Newcastle lord mayor Jeff McCloy confirmed the termination but said a range of reasons was behind the group’s decision to withdraw from the agreement.
The Pasminco spokesman said agents Jones Lang LaSalle were marketing the triangular paddock.
Four lots had been sold at the Cardiff Central industrial estate at the northern end end of the 200-hectare site.
CONTAMINATED: Boolaroo resident Jan Bartlett in her prized garden. Picture: Max Mason-Hubers
Jan’s polluted garden to be uprooted
By DAMON CRONSHAW
A BOOLAROO resident says she will be $6000 out of pocket after a free Pasminco program to remove and cover lead pollution in her yard.
Jan Bartlett, 59, spent the money and four years landscaping her Third Street backyard with bark, ground cover and shrubs.
Mrs Bartlett’s garden would be ripped up and 50millimetres of soil removed under Pasminco administrator Ferrier Hodgson’s ‘‘lead abatement strategy’’. It would be replaced with topsoil and grass or mulch.
‘‘They told me it would be grass and, if I’m lucky, mulch,’’ Mrs Bartlett said.
‘‘I feel like I’m being bullied and discriminated against.’’
Boolaroo Action Group spokesman Stan Kiaos said he had ‘‘tried to get Ferrier Hodgson to listen [to Mrs Bartlett’s case], but they said ‘No, that’s it’.’’
The administrator’s spokesman said Mrs Bartlett had been ‘‘informed that in areas of her property that have bark, it will be removed and replaced with fresh soil and bark-mulch’’.
Mrs Bartlett said mulch was not the same as the ‘‘four inches of bark’’ and vegetation in her garden.
The administrator’s spokesman said the abatement strategy was a free opt-in program and it was up to each individual to opt-in or not.
Mrs Bartlett said if she agreed to participate she would lose her garden.
If she refused, she believed her property would be devalued because of information about contaminants on the property certificate.
She said a deadline to join the program ended yesterday and she had ‘‘agreed, but I’m not happy with it’’.
The administrator’s spokesman said the purpose of the strategy was to ‘‘reduce human exposure to lead dust contamination in surface soils’’.
Mrs Bartlett said soil on her property, close to the old Pasminco site, was tested for lead and found to be 12 times higher than NSW standards.
She asked for a map of the areas tested on her property, but received no response.