After a year's silence
THE TAMBAROORA TIMES
regains its voice!
On the 29th April 2014, after a tip-off from an observant tourist, The Tambaroora Times, went down to investigate a report of raw sewerage, leaking into a creek, adjacent to a bridge on the Bald-Hill Mine Walk.
My informant, told me he worked for a municipal water company. In his opinion, the leak had been active for a sometime. How could this be? Hill End had just enjoyed its busiest season. School-holidays, Easter and Anzac Day had all happened together. The sun had shone. No rain. The village was crawling with people. How could someone not have noticed until now?
THIS IS WHAT I FOUND.
NOTHINGBut then, a whiff of something. And, given the dry period Hill End had experienced, the luxuriant growth, snaking down the creek, began to look suspicious too.
|Looking down the creek toward The Village Camp ground and Bald Hill Mine.|
The pipework looked fine, but it was obscured by thick, long grass. A near-by rock was used to push the grass to one side.
THIS IS WHAT WAS UNDER THE GRASS
The man had mentioned some algal growth. What did that mean?
A few slimy fingers of vibrant green swirling in a small pool of cloudy water. Something creepy but contained?
What I found was a slow-moving stream of contaminated sludge, seeping, underneath a lush channel of vegetation, along the creek.
Not easy to see at first. But, stepping onto it, one's feet sunk into black-water.
Pools of sludge became apparent.
The seepage flowed down a rock channel, filling three sizeable rock pools.
In rain, it would be a waterfall. Under the present circumstances it was a sludge-seep.
But a very effective one.
|Sludge seeps, along the water-course, down a tree root, into the first open pool of contaminated water below.|
|The second, and largest, pool of contaminated open water.|
|The third pool, downstream of the big pool, on the left of the green which snakes on and beyond the Bald Hill Mine.|
The creek narrowed after that, turned back on itself, and continued down toward the Bald Hill Mine (and beyond). The lushness of the vegetation, snaking through an otherwise arid landscape showed how far the contamination had travelled.
OMG! ARE WE ALL GOING TO DIE???
The NPWS manages (and indeed installed, many years ago) the water and sewerage in Hill End. I tracked down Lew Bezzina (Historic heritage Coordinator) in Bathurst. Lew immediately logged the incident with the Environmental Protection Agency.
A clean-up operation began that night and went on through most of the night.
32 HOURS LATER (AND WITH 18MM OF RAIN)
IT LOOKED LIKED THIS
|The old PVC pipe has been replaced with a more robust (and perhaps more standard) fitting.|
|The entire area has been pumped, scoured and flushed. Disinfectant was used around the bridge area to ensure decontamination. Contaminated soil has also been removed and relocated to the Settling Ponds.|
|The Sump-pump worked overtime. The contaminated liquid was pumped to the Settling Ponds. A liquid waste contractor was also on site, as back-up, to transfer waste if required.|
|Staff worked through the night to ensure a thorough clean-up.|
|The pumped out largest pool.|
The EPA (and NPWS) say their first priority was a thorough clean-up down to 60 metres.
With the huge amount of work that has been done (and the rain...in the vicinity of 45mm as of 5th May 2014) this could be adjudged to have been achieved.
The EPA arrived on site the next morning and water samples were taken.
(NPWS may also have taken their own samples prior to this)
An investigation now begins..
WILL WE GET ANSWERS????
Both Departments, NPWS, and the EPA, are bound by legislative requirements. It must be said, however, that these requirements, may and do, differ from those laid down by the Department of Water.
For example, it appears that neither NPWS or the EPA require inspection logs of the sewerage lines to be kept.
There is also the question of qualifications. Matthew Corradin, when asked as to whether NPWS staff were certified said he "assumed" so.
This question will, of course, be asked and answered in the investigation.
Transparency is one of the basic tenets of governance.
Both Lew and Matthew Corradin have been open and forthcoming. Both have given me information as to how I can gain information about the outcomes of the investigation.
According to Matthew Corradin from the EPA "These things do happen". And they do. I did ask Matthew Corradin how the pipe might have been broken..
THE KANGAROOR DID IT!
NPWS have recently tendered for an independent review of the water and sewerage system.The Tambaroora Times hopes to provide updates as to how the follow-up is proceeding. There are a number of questions to be asked and answered.
Credit to Parks on the clean-up. It was long dirty job completed in heavy rain.
A follow-up post will ensue.
NO STONE WILL REMAIN UNTURNED!!!
WATCH THIS SPACE...
Disclaimer... The Editor of The Tambaroora Times worked as a field-officer for NPWS.
She is a certified Water and Sewerage Operator. It's a nerdy qualification for a playwright.
But there it is.
But there it is.
NPWS gives go ahead for Hill End Arts' Council's
Disability Access work,
at the Catholic Church,
to go ahead.
Images and words by Karin Mainwaring.