Bassendean: contamination concerns over river


Gerry Coleman is concerned at run-off from toxic waste.
Picture: David Baylis        www.communitypix.com.au   d453996
Gerry Coleman is concerned at run-off from toxic waste. Picture: David Baylis        www.communitypix.com.au d453996

TOXIC fertiliser waste on private land in Bassendean has left a resident “astonished”.

The site is owned by company Ridgepoynt, formerly called Centurion North West.

Resident Gerry Coleman said he visited Tonkin Park on May 6 and saw a “mountain” of waste.

“I was absolutely astonished with what was sitting on top of the water: a stockpile of 250,000 cubic metres of toxic waste,” Mr Coleman said.

“A fertiliser plant was demolished and instead of following a normal procedure of toxic waste and putting it to appropriate landfill, (Bassendean council) voted on allowing a stockpile… 20m high of waste.”

Mr Coleman said he was concerned about the health of the Swan River, as the nearest water body.

“The groundwater is contaminated and the nearest water catchment area is Ashfield Flats, which is about 800m from the mountain,” Mr Coleman said.

An Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) proposal dated 1999 stated that the cell could contain between 300,000 and 500,000 tonnes of contaminated material.

It also said the main risk of soil contamination at Tonkin Park was the ongoing contamination of groundwater and the potential long-term impact on the Swan River from the discharge of groundwater.

An EPA spokeswoman said last week the minister approved the proposal at the time and the most recent amendment was made in 2005.

“Statement 701 further authorises the proposal to remediate land to allow for the redevelopment of 42 hectares adjacent to Collier Road in Bassendean, for industrial purposes,” the spokeswoman said.

“Contaminated wastes from the remediation were contained on site in a 3.8ha containment cell.

“This proposal commenced in October 1989 and was undertaken prior to the Contaminated Sites Act 2003, legislation that is now used to manage contaminated lands.”

The spokeswoman said the EPA continued to monitor the cell and urged the public to report their concerns to the EPA.

A Ridgepoynt spokesman said the situation identified at Tonkin Park was not related to their containment cell.

“The containment cell is discharged direct into the sewage system, not into this drainage system,” he said. “We monitor the containment cell and have always adhered to and met our obligations under the EPA.”

In 2014, then-acting environment minister Helen Morton said the groundwater contamination did not extend into the Swan River.