Environmental investigation at historical Waratah gasworks

12 Aug 2016

Newcastle City Council has engaged an independent environmental consultant to investigate an area in Waratah where a small gas works operated in the late 19th and early 20th century.
 
In June 2016, Council received advice from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) that a gasworks may have operated on land bounded by High, Turton and Georgetown roads.
 
Council records do not contain evidence of any gasworks at this location, but a review of historical sources confirmed that Waratah Municipal Council operated a gasworks in Waratah from 1889 to 1926.
 
Former gasworks sites may be contaminated by waste materials buried at the site during operation or decommissioning.
 
"Council has engaged a team of environmental specialists experienced in gas works sites to determine if  there is any contamination on the site"   Interim Newcastle City Council CEO Frank Cordingley said.
 
"In the meantime, as a precautionary measure, residents in the area bounded by Ellis, Turton and Georgetown roads are advised not to eat eggs laid by hens on their properties or vegetables grown in the soil until the testing is carried out and more information is available.
 
“Newcastle City Council is committed to keeping the community fully informed as the investigation progresses and will work with the community to respond to the findings of the investigation,” said Mr Cordingley.
 
The area thought to be the site of the works is now occupied by 20 residential premises
 
Council has notified all residents within the immediate and surrounding area, and is working closely with NSW Health and EPA officials.
 
"The Waratah Municipal Council was incorporated into the Council of Greater Newcastle in 1937 and Newcastle City Council land contamination records maintained since this time do not list any properties in Waratah as being affected by local gasworks.
 
More information is available on gasworks contamination on the NSW EPA website
 

Background

The Waratah Municipal Council gasworks was opened in July 1889 on part of the Newcastle Pasturage Reserve administered by the NSW Department of Lands.
 
Research has revealed the works was operated by Waratah Municipal Council to 1922, when it was leased to the City of Newcastle Gas and Coke Company until it closed in 1926.
 
Two years later Waratah Municipal Council sought tenders for the dismantling of a structure in which coal was burned to produce gas and adjacent coal sheds.
 
Waratah Municipal Council was incorporated into the Council of Greater Newcastle under the Greater Newcastle Act 1937.
 
Coal gas was adopted as a way to power lights in the late 18th century.
Gas works were built for factories to provide a light source and gas for industrial processes.