22/7/2014: Clovelly Park (South Australia). Contaminated groundwater. Trichloroethylene

Note: not likely to have been detected in drinking water

Toxic sites in Adelaide’s suburbs number in their thousands

THE Opposition has demanded a statewide audit of contaminated sites, as it emerges the dangers of trichloroethene entering groundwater was suspected as far back as the 1940s.


July 22 2014

THE Opposition has demanded a statewide audit of contaminated sites, as it emerges the dangers of trichloroethene entering groundwater was suspected as far back as the 1940s.
The call for an audit comes after Environmental Protection Authority chief executive Tony Circelli confirmed that “thousands” of sites were contaminated with various chemicals and the EPA received about 100 new notifications each year.

The State Government and Environment Minister Ian Hunter are under increasing pressure over the contamination scandal in Clovelly Park, where dozens of people have been forced to leave their homes because of health risks from the vapours of trichloroethene (TCE) rising up through the soil from industrially poisoned groundwater.

Mr Circelli, was responding to a claim by UniSA Professor Ravi Naidu, the managing director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation, that there are about 4000 contaminated sites in SA.

Mr Circelli said that claim was incorrect, but conceded the number “is in the thousands”.

Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said an audit was needed to clarify the exact number of contaminated sites and their locations.

“The purpose of conducting a statewide audit would be to establish a hierarchy of sites based on potential public health risks,” he said.

“As well as playing an important community awareness role, the audit could also provide a benchmark for ongoing monitoring and evaluation of contaminated sites for the EPA and assist with any future contamination investigations.

“This audit would inform South Australian families and businesses about any potential contamination risks that they should be aware of, as well as future development and investment decisions.”

The Opposition also will request State Parliament’s Statutory Authorities Review Committee inquire into how the EPA has discharged its duties.

The EPA lists its major areas of concern as Keswick, Marleston, Clovelly Park-Mitchell Park, the Holden plant at Elizabeth, Hendon, Glenelg East, three areas of Edwardstown including one reaching into South Plympton, and Solomontown at Port Pirie.

It also established a groundwater prohibition area in the Allenby Gardens/Flinders Park area in June last year, due to excavations of clay subsequently being filled with industrial waste which contaminated the groundwater.

Since 1999 the EPA has successfully prosecuted 63 companies, individuals, councils and utilities for pollution offences resulting in fines of between $60 and $415,000, either as court cases resulting in convictions or negotiated civil penalties.

One case was dismissed, two were withdrawn by consent and in three cases not guilty verdicts were returned including one which resulted in the EPA being hit with $47,000 in costs.

Meanwhile EPA boss Mr Circelli revealed the EPA has found a material data safety sheet from the 1940s advising anyone using TCE not to dispose of rags contaminated with the chemical anywhere near a water course.