CCS ‘hole’ about to start: But where’s the acid sulphate soil going?

Coffs Harbour City Council held yesterday held a smoking and sod turning ceremony yesterday (pictured above) prior to excavation of the CCS in Gordon Street.

By The Editor

Uncle Mark Flanders and Tina Powell from Yandaarra Committee carried out the smoking ceremony at the Cultural and Civic Space yesterday morning. They were joined by the Mayor and the CHCC CCS Project Team for the official sod turning.

The ceremony comes as questions arose over the weekend and yesterday as to where the acid sulphate soil that is being removed is to be disposed of given there are strict EPA requirements surrounding its disposal.

The following was posted at the Coffs Coast Independent News site on Facebook by Rodger Pryce last Saturday;

“Acid sulphate soils to be removed from the CCS are reported to total 28,000 tons. News today suggests that the destination for the contaminated soil is now into Queensland, not to the old Sawtell sewerage site.

Each truckload will account for 44 tons of the material which translates into 636 truckloads into Queensland, if in fact this is the new destination.

One could anticipate that this cost, into Sth East Queensland, could amount to around $2 million. The suggestion has been that the Sawtell sewerage site was to be the destination for the soil.

Did Council advise Lipmans that this was where it could be dumped? My questions are:

1.) Was the cost of the removal of the acid sulphate soils included in the ‘fixed price contract’ with Lipmans?

2.) If the contractor is now faced with carting the soil to Queensland, instead of to Sawtell, who pays for the extra cost? The shareholders or Lipmans?

3.) If the removal of the soil was not included in the contract with Lipmans, what did Council budget this cost as being?

Public access to the Lipman contract, binding ourselves to the agreement, is essential.”

Essentially apart from being environmentally problematic if the soil is to be trucked to Queensland then the exercise may be very expensive.

Especially if this freight cost was not accounted for in original CCS costings for the $81.5m voted for some two months ago.

Site offices being lifted onto the CCS site last week.

Activities that can activate and affect acid sulphate spoil

The following activities may create a disturbance in acid sulfate soil and sediments:

• excavation of land

• lowering the groundwater table

• filling land or stockpiling soil over in situ potential acid sulfate soil (PASS) — more than 100 m3 of fill or stockpiling soil with an average depth of 0.5 m or greater1

• planting vegetation or crops that may lower the water table

• costal or inshore dredging Activities that may disturb acid sulfate rock and generate finer material include:

• excavating and/or tunnelling

• blasting

• drilling or grinding. 1 These activities can force the underlying ASS above the water table at the margins of the added soil or fill. (Source: The EPA)

Acid sulfate soils are safe and harmless when not disturbed. However, if acid sulfate soils are dug up or drained they come into contact with oxygen. The oxygen can then react with the pyrite in the soil causing the pyrite to break down and produce sulphuric acid, which can cause damage to the environment, buildings, roads and other structures. The acid also attacks soil minerals, releasing metals like aluminium and iron. Rainfall can then wash the acid and metals from the disturbed soil into the surrounding environment.

As pointed out above CCO understands that the original CHCC plan was to move the soils to a site near the Sawtell sewerage/dirt bike track but it appears this may now no longer be the case.

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Lead photo: Coffs Harbour City Council

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