Like most urbanised areas in Australia, site contamination exists in suburbs built on or near former industrial land.
As a city with a strong industrial past, Newcastle has contaminated sites that are a direct result of historical practices such as brickworks, collieries, foundries, gasworks, smelters, steelworks and incinerators.
The impacts of some activities are only temporary, whereas others carry the risk of leaving an unwanted legacy.
- In some instances, particularly when the land use has involved hazardous substances, that legacy may pose a risk to humans or the environment, and it may affect the current or future use of the land. Not all contamination will affect the land in such a way that it cannot be used productively for industrial, commercial, agricultural, residential or other purposes without remediation.
Site contamination exists in most urbanised areas in Australia, and Newcastle is no exception, particularly suburbs on or near former industrial land.
Examples of common contaminants found at elevated levels in urban areas of Newcastle include Lead (Pb) and Hydrocarbons (such as PAH's and Benzo(a)pyrene).
As a general precaution, Newcastle City Council encourages residents to:
- Replace garden soil with fresh clean soil or create a raised garden bed and fill it with clean soil if looking to grow fruit or vegetables
- Avoid having areas of bare soil by maintaining grass cover or otherwise covering with an impervious surface
- Reduce exposure to soil during gardening activities by minimising dust generation, wearing gloves and always washing hands after handling soil
- Create a raised structure and fill it with clean sand or soil to avoid children playing in bare soil
- Ensure animals such as chickens are kept in an area that has clean sand or soil.
: Clean soil can be sourced from a reputable landscape supplier.
If you have any questions, please contact Newcastle City Council on 4974 2000, the Hunter New England Local Health District on 1300 066 055 or the NSW Environmental Protection Authority on 13 55 55.