Media Release - 19 February 1996
Lead Foundry - Residents Demand Safe Demolition
Residents have expressed serious concerns about the proposed demolition of a contaminated industrial site containing toxic heavy metals in the centre of residential Summer Hill, across the road from the primary school. Residents feared that poorly carried out decontamination would add to current contamination in nearby properties and pose a health risk to local residents and pre-school and school children.
At a meeting in Summer Hill yesterday (Sunday 18th February 1996) around 30 residents met to plan a campaign to ensure the best possible outcome if the Thomas Thoms lead foundry is sold. The foundry has been used as a flashing and dampcourse manufacturing premises for 113 years and the unanimous view of those present was that the foundry should go.
However, the residents are insisting on a lead-safe demolition and decontamination of the site.
Concern was raised that with the amount of accumulated lead and aluminium contaminated soil and dust expected to be found on the site and the possibility of other toxins such as asbestos, dust escaping from the site in a contaminating cloud during demolition could affect the whole area.
Carmel Balogh, one of the founders of The LEAD Group, said "There were clouds of dust rising during the demolition of the AWA industrial site in Ashfield."
Residents called on the state Environment Protection Authority to write and supervise guidelines and codes of practice for safe demolition, transport of contaminants off-site and their safe disposal.
The second major issue at the meeting was the ultimate use of the site. A development proposal before Ashfield Council to build 17 town houses on the site contravenes its current 2A residential zoning.
However, residents felt strongly that ideally the site should be used for open space or as school playground for the over-populated Summer Hill Public School.
Residents saw this as a wonderful opportunity for councillors to doubly improve the lot of local children in Summer Hill by eradicating a toxic industry and at the same time providing play space for them.
Local ward Councillor Helen Hughes said "This decision rests wholly with the 12 elected councillors. Residents who feel strongly about this issue should contact the councillors and let them know their feelings."
At the moment, residents have only until 26 February to make their views known to the Council.
Elizabeth O'Brien, National Coordinator of The LEAD Group, said, "The cost of demolition and decontamination raises the question of the economic viability of industries using hazardous materials. Gone are the days when an industry can profit from the sale of toxins and walk away from the contaminated sites they have created, with no liability."
Also, lead contamination of a long day care centre run by KU Childrens' Services in a building owned by Ashfiel Council is causing concern to The LEAD Group.
The LEAD Group has been unable to obtain all the vital documents but can make the following statement.
Both Ashfield Council and KU Childrens' Services were advised in August 1995 of the need to purchase a HEPA filter vacuum cleaner to minimise the circulation during vacuuming of lead dust which in the common hallway of the building is over ten times the acceptable dust lead level. It is not known whether the asbestos-standard HEPA vacuum cleaner was purchased or whether any other changes were made to cleaning protocols in the centre. It is absolutely essential that KU Childrens' Services ensure that lead aware housekeeping and hygiene measures are adopted at all its childcare centres.
Having not seen the report by the lead assessor or the quotes from the lead abatement contractors it is impossible to say whether the tendered abatement costs of $79,000 are excessive or indeed whether they are going to leave the centre lead-safe or not.
Contact: Elizabeth O'Brien 550 0095
Simon Quinn, a member of the committee elected at the meeting to spearhead the campaign, said "
Residents demanded community right to know about the presence of hazardous industry - many of them were unaware when they bought in the area that there was a lead foundry in the street.
is the site on the contaminated sites register?
Guidelines for lead-safe demolition have been written for houses in the flight path.
In the event that the demolition was done in a way that allowed contaminated dust to be dispersed in the area, residents discussed their remaining options for protecting their children and their homes. Another resolution demanded adequate notice of the dates of demolition, to be given over a wide area. This would enable parents of preschoolers to have their children's blood lead levels and their homes' dust lead levels assessed before and after the demolition. In the 1991 blood lead survey of Summer Hill children, half the preschoolers were found to be lead poisoned.
BRAINSTORM ON NAMES FOR THOMAS THOMS ACTION GROUP
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