Unlocking rail yards deadly legacy

Potentially deadly arsenic, cadmium and asbestos will be disturbed during proposed work at a derelict goods train site ahead of WestConnex construction.

Inner West Courier, 6th December 2016

The hazardous materials in contaminated soil and landfill could be released during a clean-up of the former Rozelle rail yards, which has lain dormant for more than 20 years.

Up to 10ha of parkland could be created as part of NSW Government plans linked to the construction of the WestConnex Rozelle interchange that will link the M4-M5 Link to the Anzac Bridge and Victoria Rd.

Part of the old rail yards will also be used to stable and maintain trams for the CBD and South East Light Rail, to run between Circular Quay, Randwick and Kingsford.

Locals also want officials to retain some of the old goods rail lines to allow for a possible future extension of the Inner West Light Rail.

Roads and Maritime Services said it is proposing the clean up, including the removal of up to 3km of rail lines, to make it ready for “future purposes” including the M4-M5 Link Interchange.

But Nathan English, a resident and advocate for transport activists EcoTransit, said rather than ripping out rail infrastructure, track should be retained to run trams to the Balmain peninsula.

There are already light rail stops at Lilyfield and Rozelle Bay that could connect with a spur line to run past the White Bay power station, the White Bay Cruise Terminal and perhaps then into Balmain and Balmain East.

Mr English said “cleaning up” the corridor was simply a government excuse to remove valuable rail corridors and force people onto the WestConnex toll road.

“It's public transport sabotage,” he said.

A just released Review of Environmental Factors report into the site, commissioned by RMS, shows that levels of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, chromium and mercury, as well as asbestos, “exceed the adopted human health and ecological criteria”.

It also found polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which may lead to such ailments as decreased immune function, cataracts, kidney and liver damage and breathing problems.

Balmain state Greens MP Jamie Parker said Rozelle residents were right to be concerned about the potentially harmful impacts.

Mr Parker said there was also the possibility stormwater run-off could lead to the contamination of water in Easton Park, Whites Creek and Rozelle Bay.

Submissions on the review will be accepted until next Tuesday.

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