Fears over clean up: toxic waste site in City of Swan

Mr McHugh and other concerned residents in Adelaide Street stand in front of the bund at the waste site targeted for remediation. Picture by David Baylis
Mr McHugh and other concerned residents in Adelaide Street stand in front of the bund at the waste site targeted for remediation. Picture by David Baylis

RESIDENTS near a toxic waste site bound by High Wycombe and Hazelmere are concerned they will be exposed to airborne particles of asbestos if the site is remediated.

The site contains nearly 17ha of land bounded by Talbot Road in Hazelmere and Adelaide Street in High Wycombe.

The Rowe Group has sought permission from the City of Swan to start remediation works as per a Department of Environment Regulation advice from September 25.

The site is planned to be used for light industrial after a proposed three-year clean up.

The land has been used as a landfill facility since 1987.

In 2013 a similar application to remediate the site was knocked back by the City of Swan, with an objection from the Shire of Kalamunda on the basis of airborne asbestos particles being dangerous and potential groundwater contamination.

Kalamunda Shire councillor Dylan O’Connor said it was timely the matter had come about last week, which was National Asbestos Week.

He said he had raised the issue two years ago when the application came before the City of Swan in 2013.

“It was knocked back then when it was zoned general rural, but now they have changed the zoning to light industrial, so I am concerned that airborne particles could affect local landowners in the next 30 to 40 years, because that’s how long it will take before we see the health impacts come to light,” he said.

“When that comes to light the developer will be long gone.

“With the asbestos and other toxic waste that has been dumped in the landfill site, potential contamination of groundwater and other ill effects, this is a serious issue for the residents in Jacaranda Estate.

“The City of Swan needs to ensure that there is zero health risk to these residents.”

The EPA’s decision is open for public appeal until December 21.

“Because this matter is now before the Appeals Convenor and the Minister will be required to determine the appeal, he is unable to comment,” a spokesman for Environment Minister Albert Jacob said.

Adelaide Street resident Arthur McHugh lives directly across the road from the site and said he was concerned residents had not been given enough notification to protest to the Government.

“I don’t want local people breathing that in when the site is remediated by a company with no history of industrial clean-ups before,” Mr McHugh said.

At a meeting last week Shire of Kalamunda councillors resolved to engage an independent consultant to provide specialist advice about the remediation of the site and review the Department of Environment Regulation works approval. The council also unanimously voted on the preparation of a third party referral application to the Environmental Protection Authority.

Forrestfield MLA Nathan Morton said he had already written to Mr Jacob and the residents of Jacaranda Springs to keep them informed on the matter since concerns were raised with him in 2013 over the site.

“I wrote to everyone in Jacaranda Springs to inform them that the Department of Environment Regulation had issued a notification of application for works approvals and new licences,” Mr Morton said.

“It is important that residents have access to the facts.

“In my letter I urged residents of High Wycombe to make a submission to the DER.”

Many residents said if they had not received a letter from Mr Morton they would not have known the issue was coming up before the DER for the works approval.