BY ADRIAN MILLER
THREE Clarence Valley properties with former cattle dip sites, bought by NSW Agriculture because of soil contamination, are to be put back onto the market.
The sites ? at Wombah, Maclean and Shark Creek ? will be on the market in a few months, after a program of capping and containment is completed.
NSW Agriculture North Coast regional director John Williams said the contamination had been contained and no longer posed a threat.
"The work on those sites was done under the auspices of an environmental consultant, so we are quite comfortable about putting these properties on the market," he said.
Mr Williams said the contamination had been capped and contained with concrete and clay, which was appropriate for these sites.
"Whatever contamination that is there is properly contained and we're comfortable it's appropriate to put them on the market," he said.
"What's been done on these sites is more than adequate to address the problem."
National Toxic Network coordinator Dr Mariann LloydSmith said capping the sites was not enough to guarantee the soil was safe.
"NSW Agriculture, it's their pollution, it's their responsibility and those sites should remain in their ownership until they have fully remediated them," she said. "That means dealing with the contamination, not just covering it up with clay and cement."
Dr Lloyd-Smith said while removing the contamination from the soil completely was costly, it needed to be done.
"Yes, it is expensive but it's always been the problem. NSW Agriculture has known that and I don't think they can es- cape their responsibility to clean up the sites," she said.
Cattle dips, which were laced with arsenic and DDT, contaminated properties and caused massive, incurable health problems for residents.
NSW Agriculture spent millions of dollars in the 1990s buying properties in an effort to curb the health risks.
Mr Williams said prospective buyers would be told the full history of the properties, and would be given all documentation relating to the contamination and clean-up.
"They will be sold with full disclosure so everybody would be fully aware of all the information and data that we held," he said.
However Dr Lloyd-Smith believes 'full disclosure' is a loaded term.
"I would never buy one of these sites (because) I would not want to open myself to the uncertainty of what may happen in the future," she said.