Soil samples clear of contaminants at Helensburgh site: EPA

The building site at Helensburgh which has come under scrutiny due to contamination and health concerns. Picture: Adam McLean
The building site at Helensburgh which has come under scrutiny due to contamination and health concerns. Picture: Adam McLean

Initial soil testing at a Helensburgh building site where work has halted due to a strong chemical odour has not identified any ‘’contaminants of concern’’.

A multi-level government investigation was instigated last month after residents reported a ‘’putrid odour’’ emanating from the 98A Parkes Street site during excavation for a new development. Residents also raised fears about what they claimed was a high rate of cancer cases in the site vicinity.

In a letter to residents this week, Wollongong City Council said that initial soil testing by the NSW Environment Protection Authority had not uncovered any contaminants.

‘’(The EPA) has located and conducted initial soil testing of the material which was moved from the Parkes Street site to a local landscaping and material recycling facility,’’ the letter stated.

‘’It has been stockpiled onsite and has not been processed. The EPA has advised that test results on the stockpiled soil did not identify any contaminants of concern.’’

Soil testing undertaken by an environment consultant on behalf of the site owner had also not identified any contaminants of concern.

‘’The results indicate that in the soil samples taken, Mono Chloroxylenols, phenols and BTEX compounds were below detection limits,’’ the letter stated.

Council records show a previous property owner had applied a substance known as ‘mono chlor xylenol’ to fence posts at an animal closure at the premises.

Council has also engaged an environmental consultancy firm, Coffey, to conduct further independent sampling of the site, with testing to be undertaken shortly. 

In light of residents’ health concerns, NSW Health is also conducting a review of the incidence rate of brain cancer in Helensburgh.