An $11.5 million clean-up project at the former Newcastle Gasworks site could start early next year, paving the way for a future development on the Hamilton North site.
The 12-month project would see the heavily contaminated site, which has laid dormant since the mid-1980s, concrete capped and rehabilitated to a level suitable for commercial or industrial purposes.
Newcastle Gasworks operated on the seven hectare site between 1913 and 1985. It left in its wake one of the region’s heavily polluted legacies.
An analysis of contaminants revealed a range of known carcinogens, potentially carcinogenic compounds and toxic compounds including benzene, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), total recoverable hydrocarbons (TRH), benzo(a)pyrene, cyanide, ammonia and lead.
A 2016 report noted some of the toxins, including cyanide, ammonia and lead, were leaching into groundwater and posed a risk to human health and the Hunter River, NSW Department of Planning documents show.
More than 65,000 cubic metres of overburden to a depth of four metres below ground level was found to be contaminated.
Jemena Gas Networks acquired the site from the Australian Gas Light Company in 2007.
Its strategic location was earmarked in the early 2000s as an option for a future transport interchange.
A State Significant development application submitted to the NSW Department of Planning proposes to keep the administration building, however, the former residence would be demolished.
A Jemena spokesman said, while the company was not actively trying to sell the site, it had an open mind about its future.
“Our focus at the moment is on safely remediating the site so we haven’t made any plans or decisions in relation to how it will be used in the future,” a Jemena spokesman said.
“That said we haven’t ruled any options off the table, noting the site will be remediated to a commercial-industrial standard.”
A community information session will be held at Hamilton North Bowling Club between 3pm and 8pm on Tuesday August 14.
“Provided we secure the necessary approvals on time, we will commence remediation activities early next year. We expect the remediation process will take around 12 months in total to complete,” the Jemena spokesman said.