TOXIC SHIRE – NSW – What Lies Beneath…

it’s an unremarkable service station on an unremarkable intersection in a suburb of Sydney.

But this station hides a secret. Just a few metres underfoot a plume of dangerous chemicals has been bleeding through the soil for 20 years. It has crept into the groundwater, travelled hundreds of metres under sporting fields, cemeteries and trophy homes before eventually finding a home under the pleasure craft and kayaks that glide up and down a popular river.

From ground level there’s little to betray the toxic history of the Sutherland service station. Over 60 years it’s been run by different owners, under different brands and policed by different government departments, all seemingly incapable of cleaning up the mess.

Toxic history

A 2000 report found total petroleum hydrocarbons and BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and zylene) contamination at surface level and at three metres.

There are sites like this right across NSW, properties that have continued to pollute for decades, under the nose of the environmental watchdog, the NSW Environment Protection Authority and its predecessors, which have struggled to properly assess the contaminated sites, let alone clear them up. In the scramble it has allowed polluters off the hook.

Sites that have continued to pollute for decades, right under the nose of the environmental watchdog.

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