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THE State Government is planning to excavate a secret radioactive dump on premium harbourfront real estate and truck the dangerous material to the Western Suburbs.
More than 30 years after discovering it was emitting significant levels of radiation, NSW Health is attempting to dump its nuclear problem on the people of western Sydney so it can sell a multi-million dollar block of land.
Decaying away on the modest residential block at Nelson Pde, Hunters Hill, 5km west of the CBD, is an estimated 1000 tonnes of radioactive waste buried under a few centimetres of soil.
According to the Department of Environment's records, the land contains tailings of uranium 238, thorium 230, lead 210 and radium 226.
Both the Department of Environment and NSW Health maintained the site was completely safe.
But a company contracted by The Daily Telegraph just last week detected radioactive gamma rays of up to 10 times higher than acceptable exposure levels at the site - which residents are now only learning was once home to Australia's first uranium processing plant.
"We were told it was a watch factory," said Kathie Frankland, who built a house five years ago two doors from the site.
To add to the problem, perilous levels of arsenic, lead and cancer-causing hydrocarbons have been detected on adjoining foreshore land which the Department of Environment only recently classified as posing a "significant risk of harm".
"This site is effectively a nuclear waste dump," said Liberal MP Michael Richardson, who obtained documents under Freedom of Information revealing authorities have known about it for decades.
NSW Health, which took over the site in the 1980s when it was transferred to its radiation branch, now plans to clean it up and sell it for housing.
And it proposes to dig up the fill and truck it through Sydney streets to a western Sydney tip.
Local MP Anthony Roberts claimed that the company contracted to remove it, GHD, said it was going to be taken to an industrial tip near Castlereagh.
He was told by the company: "Don't worry, it's going way out west."
Government documents dating back to 1978 reveal a 30-year history of inaction and cover-up by successive governments of the waste dump containing 1000 tonnes of radioactive tailings stockpiled on the site since 1915 by the then Radium Hill Company.
A NSW Health Commission warning of October 28, 1978 to a neighbouring resident revealed that testing uncovered radioactive readings twice the acceptable level on their property as well.
"I have to inform you that the NSW Government today resolved to arrange for decontamination of your property . . . of radioactive material as soon as an agreement can be reached with the Commonwealth Government on a suitable disposal site," wrote the commission's chairman Roderick McEwin on 17 January, 1978 to a Nelson Pde resident. The land was never decontaminated.
CETC, a company contracted to The Daily Telegraph, last week tested five locations at the site. The highest reading was 10 microsieverts per hour of radiation. Risk assessments were triggered when 0.5 microsieverts per hour were detected.
Consulting scientist with CETEC Adam Garnys recommended in a report that a risk assessment be conducted.