Inner West Independent

Inner West Council seeks transparency on St Peters Interchange contamination

WestConnex M8

St Peters Interchange is a section of the WestConnex M8, which has a site that's been flagged as contamination hazard. Photo: WestConnex.

By AMBER GRIFFIN

After a City Hub investigation revealed that council had been left in the dark about the NSW government’s concerns over contamination at the WestConnex St Peters Interchange, the Inner West Council is taking action to gain transparency on the situation.

A motion at a recent Inner West Council meeting requesting an “urgent briefing” from Transport for NSW on the report ordered by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) was raised by Inner West Councillor Pauline Lockie.

The contamination of the site, which was proposed to be the development location of a park by Transport for NSW, was brought to Cr Lockie’s attention by the City Hub investigation.

Clr Lockie expressed the urgency of this matter, stating that it’s critical for Transport for NSW and the NSW Government to have transparency about the WestConnex St Peters Interchange site.

“St Peters residents have suspected for years that the site remains highly contaminated, but Transport for NSW has continued to try and push responsibility for managing its so-called ‘parkland’ onto Council” Cr Lockie said.

“When I heard that Transport for NSW did this while failing to inform Council about serious public safety concerns at the site, I knew we had to act.”

St Peters Interchange

The original plan for parkland around the interchange (above), compared to what was constructed (below). Photo: Facebook

Councillor Mat Howard seconded the motion to press for candor over the contamination concerns.

“This is yet more secrecy and more contempt from Transport for NSW, the NSW Liberal Government and WestConnex who have ripped through our Inner West suburbs with no regard for residents or our communities” Cr Howard said at the June 14 council meeting.

Along with an urgent briefing from Transport for NSW about the EPA reports, the motion also calls for the council to write to the Premier and relevant ministers with a series of requests.

Cr Lockie shared her disappointment on behalf of the community during the Inner West Council meeting.

“Given that there are literally thousands of people that live, work or travel past that site everyday, I think it’s appalling that the council and our community have been kept in the dark about a matter of potentially serious public health and safety.”

Council left in the dark about contamination

This supposed parkland is essentially a mound of decomposing toxic waste, containing potentially explosive levels of methane. This toxic mound was covered with soil and deemed a park.

The hazard is located near a busy intersection beside an unfiltered ventilation stack at the WestConnex M8 Interchange – an expansion of tolled roads and concrete bridges that stretches across an old landfill site.

CPB Contractors, the contractors responsible for the site, have since plead guilty in the Land and Environment Court to causing serious harm to nearby residents after they failed to manage the high levels of toxic pollutants.

The NSW Environmental Protection Authority’s concerns about hazard risks at the site led it to require fresh reports and monitoring of the land that is part of the WestConnex Interchange. These requirements and concerns were never passed onto Councils by Transport for NSW.

What’s next for the “World’s Worst Park”?

The WestConnex Action Group, supported by thousands of residents opposing the tollway, were sceptical of WestConnex PR videos, and dubbed the St Peters parkland the ‘World’s Worst Park’

During the Inner West Council meeting, Cr Lockie referred to the matter as ‘The Saga of the World’s Worst Park.’ When asked by City Hub what will need to occur in order for the saga to finally be ended, Cr Lockie shared how the NSW Government can right their wrongs.

“It was always clear that the land around WestConnex St Peters Interchange was going to be the world’s worst park, but the mess we’ve been left with by the NSW Government is below even our lowest expectations.”

Cr Lockie calls for the site to be remediated by the NSW government, “which they should have done years ago.”

“They should work with Council to deliver the genuine parkland that they promised to deliver.”

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