Contaminated depot runoff issues already in hand: council

Hutchinson Builders employees inspecting the runoff from the Clarence Valley Council depot site last week.
Hutchinson Builders employees inspecting the runoff from the Clarence Valley Council depot site last week. Tim Howard

UPDATE: MONDAY 2PM: Clarence Valley Council has already satisfied two of the guidelines for controlling the runoff from its South Grafton depot says works and civil director Troy Anderson.

Mr Anderson said the council and the contractor building the depot, Hutchinson Builders, completed works on Friday afternoon that satisfied two conditions the NSW Environment Protection Authority placed on the site.

The EPA directed the council to take the following actions:

a. A suitable qualified and experienced person must prepare and Erosion and Sediment Control Plan for the site which details the sediment and erosion controls which will be implemented to achieve compliance with the Managing Urban Stormwater - Soils and Construction: Volume 1. This plan must submitted to the EPA by Wednesday March 22, 2017.

b. The erosion and Sediment Control prepared in accordance with item a. above, must be implemented by Wednesday March 29, 2017.

c.An inspection and maintenance program for the erosion and sediment controls must be implemented to ensure the ongoing compliance with the Managing Urban Stormwater - Soils and Construction Volume 1.

d. The Erosion and Sediment Control Plan must be updated regularly to ensure that it reflects the nature of the earth works occurring on site and manages the risks posed by those works.

Mr Anderson said Hutchinson Builders staff were onsite over the weekend attending to the erosion and sediment control devices. Up to 7.15am this morning on the site 173mm or rain had been recorded. 

He also noted the depot site was not the only source of sediment contaminated runoff and provided photographs of drains fully or muddy water upstream of the council depot site. "Other sites are contributing to water discharge," he said. "Council's site is not a sole contributor. I am unaware if NSWEPA has taken any action toward the other properties."   
Sediment contaminated runoff upstream from the council depot in South Grafton.
Sediment contaminated runoff upstream from the council depot in South Grafton.
  BEFORE: THE MUDDY run off pouring from the construction site of the Clarence Valley Council's depot in South Grafton, has prompted prevention orders from the NSW Environment Protection Authority.

The EPA issued the council and Hutchinson Builders with prevention notices to address environmental concerns at the former South Grafton Sewage Treatment Plant.

The notices follow two inspections in the past two days where EPA officers observed a large amount of sediment-laden water leaving the site and entering the stormwater system.

The EPA prevention notices state that Clarence Valley Council and Hutchison Builders must now:

  • Engage a consultant to prepare an Erosion and Sediment Control Plan by Wednesday, March 22.
  • Implement the Erosion and Sediment Control Plan by Wednesday, March 29.
  • Implement an ongoing inspection and maintenance program for erosion and sediment.

EPA manager regional operations North Coast Brett Nudd said it was important to have this preventative work done with more rain expected in the coming weeks.

"We've been working with Clarence Valley Council to ensure the necessary upgrades to the erosion and sediment controls are implemented as quickly as possible, to prevent more run off leaving the site and potentially damaging the surrounding area and waterways," Mr Nudd said.

"These prevention notices are an important step in ensuring that medium term actions are taken to protect the environment.

"We've also taken water samples that are being analysed and these results will inform our ongoing investigations."

The EPA will take a range of factors into account to determine its regulatory response, including the degree of environmental harm, potential health impacts, compliance history, public interest and best environmental outcomes.

Members of the community can report pollution incidents to the EPA's 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555.

Clarence Valley Council's works and civil director, Troy Anderson, downplayed fears of asbestos leaching from the site during the recent rain event.

Asbestos found on the site in November brought construction to a halt while more than 70,000 tonnes of contaminated soil was removed from the site at a cost of $7 million.

But pieces of asbestos were exposed after rain last month at some places on the site, during a surface inspection to give it the all clear for work to restart.

This asbestos was removed and the site was given the all clear earlier this month.

Residents have been alarmed at the prospect of asbestos and othe contaminants washing from the site after heavy rain began last Tuesday.

The council has been contacted for further comment.

Topics:  asbestos removal clarence valley council depot epa pollution

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