The former director and owner of Rutherford's Truegain was not paid any money by the NSW government when it acquired the former business site for remediation after decades of pollution of the ground, air and water.
The Newcastle Herald reported last week that the government had taken ownership of the Kyle Street site and planned a two stage clean-up, involving demolition and removal of all structures before ground and water remediation begins.
It is set to cost an estimated $20 million.
The Herald understands that the government offered nothing in exchange for the heavily-contaminated block, after an independent valuer deemed the site to be worth $0.
The property was then acquired under the Land Acquisition (Just Terms Compensation) Act 1991.
The Herald is not aware of any challenge to the move, but any such dispute would be taken to the Land and Environment Court.
It comes after the Herald's long-running Dirty Deeds campaign, which shed light on years of contamination at Truegain - also known as Australian Waste Oil Refineries - with waste dumped onto the ground and into a nearby creek.
Truegain went into liquidation in 2016 and the site was abandoned after Hunter Water discovered the business was releasing foam containing PFAS into the sewer.
Former company director and site owner Robert Pullinger is facing criminal proceedings in the Land and Environment Court after he declared bankruptcy when the EPA ordered him to pay $1.2 million to cover the cost of remediation.
The saga was a major catalyst for strengthened legislation passed earlier this year to give the NSW Environment Protection Authority more power to go after polluters.
"The shocking pollution at the Truegain site was one of the cases that led to the NSW government's recent legislative changes, which will help ensure similar circumstances are prevented in the future," NSW Environment Minister James Griffin said last week.
"Repairing environmental contamination is a lengthy process that can take years to rectify and can cost millions of dollars, which is why we gave the NSW EPA greater powers to prosecute those that cause land contamination or illegally dump waste."
Property and Development NSW has taken control of the site and will manage the remediation under the guidance of the EPA.
The government has awarded a $5.6 million contract to Suez Recycling and Recovery to make sure material in dozens of ageing tanks at the Rutherford industrial estate site is properly contained.
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