Did the Department of Defence ignore a key Parliamentary safety recommendation when it recently wood chipped trees that are said to be growing over polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) contaminated soil adjacent to Bundock Street Randwick?
Randwick Greens Councillor Murray Matson wants to know the answer.
On the 27th of July a resident sent him photographs of a large wood chipper grinding the trees into dusty mulch on an area of the Bundock Street Defence Force in Randwick known as “area 10”.
Knowledgeable local residents were dismayed to see the chipping operation underway and asserted to Councillor Matson that there is about 21,000 cubic metres of PCB approx 400 millimetres underneath the machine.
If so, the trees had been growing over and sending their roots down into the PCB for 10 years. As one contamination expert is reported to have said to locals, “…this is about the most dangerous thing they could do’. ”
In February 2003 the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works recommended that Defence appoint an “appropriate regulatory body” to monitor contamination remediation works on the site.
This was to “ensure that proper health, safety and environmental controls are exercised.” If Defence ever did put an appropriate regulatory body in charge it must be asked was it actually doing anything useful last week?
Councillor Matson has a motion going to the next Randwick City Council meeting. He this week,
“I will be asking Randwick City Council to inquire of the Commonwealth Government why local residents had to watch PCB contaminated material being turned into dust across the road from their homes and families.”
TEXT OF GREENS RANDWICK CITY COUNCIL MOTION
“That Council asks the Department of Defence whether an appropriate regulatory body monitored the execution of recent contamination works involving the chipping of trees on area 10 at its Bundock Street property in accordance with recommendation 2 made by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works in February 2003.”