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GCL used to cap former arsenic processing plant

News | October 12, 2023 | By:

The New South Wales, Australian government has completed a $3.4 million project to remediate contamination at the former Jennings Processing Plant near Tenterfield, cleaning up a legacy polluted site almost 100 years since it closed.

It took years of planning to excavate and contain soil contaminated at the former Jennings Processing Plant.

The Crown Lands project took place almost five months and followed many years of planning to excavate and contain soil contaminated by the former plant, which produced arsenic trioxide powder from 1923 to 1928 to help control the spread of prickly pear weed across the state.

About 1,650 tonnes of contaminated soil has been sealed in a containment cell, with the site capped with a geosynthetic clay liner, clean soil, compost and then overlaid with hessian across a 10,500-square-meter area larger than a football field. The land was then revegetated with a seed mixture, including a combination of 10 native grasses, to create fresh ground cover that will restore the site to a natural state.

The site has been capped with a geosynthetic clay liner, clean soil, compost and then overlaid with hessian.

The Soil Conservation Service was contracted to undertake the work including measures to protect the area against potential future erosion and sediment run-off. Minister for lands and property Steve Kamper said like many places where historic industrial sites operated, the community at Jennings was left to bear the brunt of contamination from actions that occurred a long time ago. “The arsenic trioxide produced here may have addressed one problem but left another that has now been finally dealt with,” Kamper said. “I thank the team at Crown Lands and its partners for cleaning up this land so that it can once again be utilized by local wildlife and the community.”

The clean-up commenced in March under the guidance of Environmental Resources Management Australia and following investigations by Crown Lands, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and Tenterfield Shire Council. A remediation strategy was put in place in accordance with the NSW Contaminated Land Management Act 1997.

Some further minor work will occur, including vacuum cleaning of adjacent rock areas and the planting of trees on surrounding land. The area will be monitored over time to assess the site’s suitability for public access. Previous remediation work took place at the site in the 1950s, and then in 2009 when topsoil was laid and a basin built to collect contaminated runoff. Find out more about the remediation of the former Jennings Arsenic Plant.

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