Demolition day: govt gives final OK for stack
Residents opposed to the Port Kembla stack demolition have been responsible for significant delays affecting the final detonation date, says Port Kembla Copper general manager Ian Wilson.
“The campaign has delayed us and diverted resources that could otherwise have been put on to other matters,” he said on Wednesday.
Earlier this week, Wollongong City Council sent a letter to NSW Planning Minister Brad Hazzard seeking confirmation that all steps relating to the demolition had been followed, and requesting a response by noon yesterday.
Wollongong councillor tries to keep stack
On Wednesdayafternoon Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery said the confirmation had been received.
“Wollongong City Council today has received an assurance from the Director-General of NSW Planning and Infrastructure outlining their satisfaction that the conditions outlined by the department regarding the demolition of the Port Kembla Copper stack have been met,” Cr Bradbery said.
Mr Wilson said one of the biggest obstacles to be overcome was the presence of asbestos aluminium gaskets in the stack, confirmed in 2011.
“All asbestos gaskets were removed between March and July 2013,” he said.
“The stack was then inspected top to bottom by an accredited hygiene consultant, who gave us the all-clear that all the asbestos had been removed.”
After that, claims had emerged that there was asbestos within the stack’s concrete fabric, Mr Wilson said.
Although these claims had been disproved, members of the community then questioned the legitimacy of the company’s own tests, he said.
“There were questions of independence of the quality of the test work Port Kembla Copper had carried out, so the Environment Protection Authority and WorkCover, under the guidance of the Department of Planning, then carried out their own testing,” Mr Wilson said.
“That was able to demonstrate quite clearly there is no asbestos in the concrete of the stack and there is no asbestos in any bricks of the stack.”
On Thursday, a network of sprinklers will be used to prevent any dust moving into residential areas.
Mr Wilson said cement and brick particles would make up most of the dust.
However, he acknowledged there would also be “almost immeasurable” amounts of other materials.
These would include arsenic, zinc, lead and copper.
“There is a very fine [amount] of material adhering to the bricks,” he said.
The Port Kembla skyline around 8 o’clock on Wednesday night. Picture: ANDY ZAKELI
“The environmental monitoring system we have in place will be able to monitor any levels of those contaminants, should they be found to exist.”
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