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Sean

Blowin' in the wind

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hmm, looks like it takes about 100 years to forget where we buried the nuclear waste/contamination.

Radioactive waterfront home to be razed

BEN CUBBY ENVIRONMENT

December 28, 2009

NEW plans to clean up the site of a former uranium smelter in Hunters Hill mean a four-storey waterfront mansion the NSW Government has repeatedly declared safe will be demolished.

In addition, 3000 cubic metres of radioactive earth will be dug out of two neighbouring properties and another 500 cubic metres are likely to be scraped from the harbour floor in front of the site at 11 Nelson Parade, subject to more tests by the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation.

A secretive tendering process for removing the earth, in which bidders were forbidden from visiting the site or talking to neighbours, is under way. No environmental assessment or planning approval has been granted yet. The Herald understands the tests show elevated background radiation levels that in some cases exceed health guidelines, reinforcing results from independent tests last year by a private company, Australian Radiation Services. These showed that in some spots contamination was 350 times normal levels.

The Government's State Property Authority, which took over management of the site from NSW Health this year, said in tender documents that the home might need to be demolished, subject to ANSTO's findings.

The house was bought back from private owners for $3.4 million in an out-of-court settlement, after the Government said for six months that it was safe.

The clean-up plans are another climbdown for the Government, which maintained for years that the street was safe. Six people who lived in affected properties in the street are known to have died from cancer, though there is no proven link between their deaths and the radioactivity.

In April last year a statement on behalf of the then health minister Reba Meagher said ''the results of the testing indicate that people living in Nelson Parade should have no health concerns''. The then environment minister, Verity Firth, said the levels fell within Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency guidelines, though they exceeded those guidelines.

The tender documents say the clean-up may extend beyond 7 and 9 Nelson Parade to the four-storey mansion at number 11.

NSW Liberal MP Michael Richardson, who has campaigned for years for a thorough clean-up, said the secrecy of the tendering process was alarming. "I understand the sensitivity of this issue but the people of NSW are entitled to know the full story,'' he said.

The documents classify the soil as ''restricted solid waste'' but Mr Richardson said some of it should be classified as hazardous waste, which poses a problem for disposal.

An ANSTO spokesman said the agency was supplying results to the NSW Environment Department, which would decide the level of clean-up required.

The site was home to a uranium smelter owned by Radium Hill Company from 1908 to 1915. Uranium ore from South Australia was processed for export to Europe for cancer treatments.

http://www.smh.com.a...91227-lga9.html

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The documents classify the soil as ''restricted solid waste'' but Mr Richardson said some of it should be classified as hazardous waste, which poses a problem for disposal.

Not for the NSW state government. They are possibly hatching plans to calculate the kg per metre squared this can be spread at to be considered "safe" and then air drop it over their favourite people living in the liberal voting areas of North Western Sydney and on the Peninsula.

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