2016 December: Woolomin (NSW) – Hydrocarbons

Five bores contaminated from leaking fuel in Woolomin



Ongoing testing at Woolomin, in northern New South Wales, has revealed five bores in the town are now contaminated with hydrocarbons, following a fuel leak from tanks at the General Store earlier this month.

Three bores that previously returned positive readings for the presence of hydrocarbons remain positive, and another two bores have returned a positive reading, including a bore located at Woolomin Public School.

Council said the contaminated bores, which are located the greatest distance from the source of the leak, have the lowest levels of contamination, including the bore at the school.

The two new bores had previously been tested and returned a negative reading.

Council’s director of planning and compliance, Peter Thompson, said the water in all five bores is above the safe drinking guidelines.

He said two remediation programs were continuing today, with contractors removing the underground fuel tanks at the site and the holes backfilled.

Water would also continue to be pumped from contaminated bores in an attempt to reduce the level of contamination.

Mr Thompson said results due back early next week would determine if drawing the water out had been successful.

“We’re hoping that will reduce the contamination and in an ideal world it would remove the contamination,” he said.

“However it’s really reliant on us removing the contaminated soil as well, which started on Wednesday.

“We were taking samples as we were doing the work … it’s a number of days, the turnaround to get those samples analysed in Sydney so we’ll probably know by Tuesday.”

Mr Thompson said progress was being made but the situation was far from over.

“I don’t think the end is in sight; in part this has been about addressing the issue but it’s also still about getting information,” he said.

“I think this is a long-term issue and we’ll make decisions today about the short term and have a better idea about what the long-term solution will be.”

Funds provided to rehabilitate contaminated water supply at Woolomin


The New South Wales Government has stepped in to clean up the contaminated water supply of a small town near Tamworth.

The Woolomin community will receive $360,000 from the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to fully remediate its water supply, after 400 litres of fuel leaked into the groundwater system earlier this year.

The money will fund ongoing monitoring and remediation work such as installing groundwater monitoring wells, and soil and water analysis to prevent further leaks.

Tamworth MP Kevin Anderson said the rehabilitation works were urgently needed after recent rains.

“The contamination levels started to rise again after settling,” he said.

“Before the rain it became very clear to me that we needed to get in, we needed to rehabilitate this site, remove the contaminated soil, as part of a significant pathway to allowing Woolomin to have their own water supply again.”

Mr Anderson said he had lobbied Environment Minister Mark Speakman to release funding from the NSW Environmental Trust to help with the expensive and lengthy clean-up.

He said in the end the usual ‘polluter pays’ policy was exempt from the pressing case.

“The Government will be making a claim against the insurance company on this,” Mr Anderson said.

“But given the fact that these issues tend to drag over time, I put a very strong case to the Minister that we need to move quickly on this, and I guess the Government will be pursuing the company further down the track.”

The long-awaited funding solution comes after the EPA provided $116,000 in emergency clean-up funding to Tamworth Regional Council in February.

The advice from NSW Health remains in place, which is to not drink or use the bore water in other activities, until the community has been advised otherwise.