The former Wollongong Gasworks was operated by the Wollongong Gas Light Company as a coal gasification plant (gasworks) between 1883 and 1977.
Jemena Gas Networks (NSW) Ltd (Jemena), a subsidiary of Jemena Limited acquired the site following the transaction of assets from the Australian Gas Light Company (AGL) in 2007. Following the acquisition, Jemena became responsible for the site and legacy gasworks contamination.
There have been numerous investigations undertaken at the site between 1997 and 2019. The soil and groundwater at the site have been contaminated by the historical waste and by-products produced during the operation of the gasworks.
The gas manufacturing infrastructure formerly located on the site included a retort house, boiler, exhaust house, washers and purifiers, coal storage areas, tar wells, gas holders and a drum filling area. The aboveground site infrastructure was demolished in the 1980s and a large section of the site (Lot 2412) was remediated by excavation of infrastructure and hydrocarbon impacted soil in 2005.
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) issued a Section 77 Notice requesting information on the current status of the site; and Jemena submitted a Detailed Site Investigation (DSI) report to the EPA in January 2017. The EPA reported that they would not declare the site contaminated under the CLM Act 1997, based on the understanding that Jemena will continue to progress the remediation in a timely manner, with ongoing regular communication with the EPA.
To ensure the remediation works are completed in accordance with the applicable regulatory requirements Jemena has engaged a Site Auditor accredited by the NSW EPA under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997.
Since the completion of the 2005 remediation works, a number of investigations have been conducted at the site, including works contributing to the removal of stockpiles in December 2018 and building demolition and slab removal completed in November 2019. A final site investigation was carried out post demolition, characterising areas that were previously inaccessible. The information going towards clarifying the extent of the nominal remediation zones.
In parallel, Jemena’s environmental consultant Senversa has finalised the Remediation Action Plan (RAP), providing direction on the future remediation works. The RAP has been provided to Jemena’s appointed NSW EPA Accredited Site Auditor.
Due to the complexities of the project and to ensure minimal disruption to the community, Jemena continues to engage extensively with specialist consultants, contractors and government departments. This will ensure the project is appropriately scoped, planned and completed.
Aerial photograph of the former Wollongong Gasworks site (September 2020). Courtesy of Nearmap.