There is more to the story than meets the eye

Save Frog Hollow

From the editor:

These notes are collated from Katherine Marchment who has a deep knowledge and a wealth of experience in environmental issues. Katherine can be contacted here:

Probably the scariest part of all this is that the NTG were happy to advise the residents of Darwin (and other project stakeholders presumably) that there is no contamination identified in the Barneson Boulevard project.

From Katherine’s posts:

One Mile Dam

In liaising with Kumbutjil residents, I was asked a question. What is your business on our land? A serious question that made me stop and think about that. My answer - I hate to see good land ruined. The family of my Welsh grandfather had a small amount of land that they retained control of from the English. They took care of that land for over 1000 years and in turn that land fed their families and still feeds that family today. I have a lot of my granddad in me. I have that in common with the Kumbutjil people. We love our land and know that if we take care of the land, then the land takes care of us. My job for them is to try to stop poisons from their neighbours coming onto their land at One Mile Dam.

The old tank farm site

In the NT Waste Management Act there are strict regulations for a lot of those chemicals found during the testing of the old fuel tank site.

I am glad that they are going to release the EIS though and that they have pushed the date of the Tender Back. However BB does not run "adjacent to the old fuel dump" - it runs smack through it on the bit that was annexed from Shell/Mobil/Caltex.

Also - still waiting for NTG "extensive consultation" with the OMD Residents, who live right next to the bit of BB that runs smack through that Old fuel Dump that Shell has assessed as highly toxic. Also if you look at the Shell map where the Offsite Testing was done a DIPL map - you can see that they have done testing on the BB part of the old fuel dump - just haven't released the results yet. Waiting.....

The Shell audit

The Shell Audit states that the site has been cleaned up "To the extent practicable" - It can be supposed this is still a toxic site, they haven't cleaned it up because they can’t. Solution is to chuck a metre of topsoil over it.

From the Audit - Soil vapour survey conducted by URS May 2010. "2.2.4-trimethylpentane (TMP). The reported concentrations were approximately 50 times higher than the adopted HSL (Health and Safety Laboratory) screening value for C6-C10 aliphatic TPH." In common with all hydrocarbons, 2,2,4-trimethylpentane is exceedingly flammable in the presence of oxygen, and its vapours readily form explosive mixtures with air. - not stuff you want to move around with heavy machinery. In Queensland Hydrocarbons are migrating through top soil from 500 metres down. So how effective do you think one metre of topsoil is going to be?

Zone E (Never to be built on) - the most toxic part of the Shell/Viva site is smack next to One Mile Dam Community and where Barneson Boulevard is going through. Because of the extremely close proximity they are pretty much guaranteed to be inhaling the absolute worst of the toxins during construction.

During my meetings with the One Mile Dam residents, a grandchild of the Boss Lady sits in listening with ears flapping. He is a gorgeous little boy, five years old and as bright as a button and takes in every word in the discussions. His family know he is smart and talented and he is their pride and joy. They want him to go to school in Darwin City so he can be assured of having a much better education than is usually available to aboriginal children.

I have fallen in love with the little guy myself and wish for him the same bright future his family does.

38 McMinn Street

Any construction on or adjoining 38 McMinn Street is expected to disturb some groundwater and produce hydrocarbon plumes (gas) that people surrounding the site will be exposed to. These hydrocarbons include BTEX (All of the following BTEX chemicals are listed in the Shell Environmental Audit Report). Australian Standards for safe levels of exposure to BTEX are as follows:
Benzene – 1 ppb*
Toluene – 180 ppb#
Ethylbenzene – 80 ppb#
m-Xylene – 75 ppb#
o-Xylene – 350 ppb#
p-Xylene – 200 ppb#
†As guidance, 1 ppb is equivalent to 1 micro gram per litre, or a teaspoon of liquid in an Olympic size swimming pool.

In Shell Environmental Audit Report  - in the zone where Barneson Boulevard will be built. Those in surrounding areas of McMinn Street, One Mile Dam, Stuart Park and Dinah Beach may need education in Organochlorine Pesticides and Organophosphorous Pesticides. This link is a peer reviewed study that shows health impacts experienced by those who inhale.

There is all up about 50 highly toxic (thus reportable by Australian Law) chemicals listed in the Shell Environmental Audit Report that people will be exposed to through inhalation during construction of Barneson Boulevard from McMinn St to Tiger Brennan. DIPL has been upfront in saying that people will be exposed to "Noise and Dust". They have not however, informed people of what is in that dust. I hope some of my posts help clarify this.


3.3 Will One Mile Dam be affected?

No works are proposed within Lot 5027 Town of Darwin (the lot in which One Mile Dam is located). During construction, residents at One Mile may experience temporary noise, vibration and dust impacts. Potential impacts and management measures are being assessed in accordance with the Environmental Assessment Act and Waste Management and Pollution Control Act ( A Communication Plan is being developed to inform One Mile and other potentially impact stakeholders of potential works, timing, measures in place to reduce potential impacts, complaints procedures and the like.

DIPL has stated that the construction of Barneson Boulevard will create noise and dust. Some of what will be in that dust is Volatile Organic Compounds. American Air Pollution Regulations with regards to VOC's state: "On or after July 1 1980, any person owning, leasing, operating or controlling a facility regulated under 310 CMR 7.18 shall store and dispose of Volatile Organic Compounds which will minimise evaporation to the atmosphere" - so the danger exposing people to airborne VOC's has been known for quite some time.

Health Impacts of Inhalation of VOC's from the Australian Government National Pollutants Inventory:
"The health effects depend on the specific composition of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) present, their concentration and the length of exposure. General effects of exposure to VOCs include: irritation to the eyes, nose and throat; headaches; loss of coordination; nausea; and damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system. Some VOCs can cause cancer in animals, and some are suspected or are known to cause cancer in humans" and from the independent Australian National Toxics Network  on "Other VOC's (not BTEX) we are at risk of being exposed to via dust.

Other VOCs can also be toxic. Some are known to cause cancer in animals (eg methylene chloride), or in humans (eg formaldehyde) or are suspected human carcinogens (eg chloroform, bromodichloromethane). VOCs are also key ingredients in forming ozone (smog), which is linked to asthma attacks, and other serious health effects. VOCs help form fine particle pollution (PM2.5). VOC exposure may result in eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, visual disorders, memory impairment, loss of coordination, nausea, damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system.26

NT Baseline Testing
Results One Mile Dam
Onsite Drain between old Levee and Slag Heaps
Lead - 45 mg/kg
Hydrocarbons, Pesticides, Phenols, Asbestos < 0.05 mg/kg or undetected

USA Safe levels for dry inert soil is 150 mg/kg, In Australia the safe levels were the same but have been increased to 300 mg/kg for dry inert soil since 2012 advent of the gas industry? These levels are set to determine safe removal methods of lead contaminated solid for Councils. That is, under that they can use a backhoe etc. to remove lead contaminated soil but over that they have to use other methods such as vacuum pumping. Levels I measured on the Levee are 47 mg/kg - not good for long term effects on humans but this soil can be safely removed with a backhoe.

NT Baseline Testing
Results One Mile Dam
Onsite - Side of Old Levee Closest to Mindy House
Lead 47 mg/kg
Hydrocarbons, Pesticides, Phenols, Asbestos < 0.05 mg/kg or undetected

This levee is pre 1984 so I would be surprised to find volatile organics unless recently dumped as they would have evaporated off years ago. Apart from the leaching that occurs each wet and some spread in dust - the lead in soils stays so it is a good test for toxicity.

NT Baseline Testing
Results One Mile Dam
Baseline Test Site - Offsite Road Base approx. 50m Mindy House
Lead 10 mg/kg
Hydrocarbons, Pesticides, Phenols, Asbestos < 0.05 mg/kg or not detected.

According to NSW gov - the new? safe levels for inert soil are 300 mg per kg. One Mile Dam residents want a new levee that has less lead than the old one as they say they are being lead impacted and specifically asked me to test for lead. They reckon that 10 mg/kg is better than the 4.7 times higher than that in the levee they have now.

The dangerousness of lead is more complex than just the amount. Different lead oxides are more or less dangerous, whereby the major determining factor is actually whether or not it can actually get into the human body.

Any kind of lead dust is very dangerous, given that lead poisoning happens at levels that are millionths of a gram per litre of blood, so it would depend on whether or not the substance tested at the site is of a form that moves around.

It moves around with water runoff - particularly in wet season and stirred up as airborne dust in dry season - look at kids bikes - kids play near there all the time

One Mile Dam
Results Pb - Lead

Baseline (Lab Sample 3) Offsite
Approx 50 metres Mindy Timber's House
Road Base Pilled up two stories looking over One Mile Dam Community approx. 2 Stories higher than homes of residents.
This Road base looks like the stockpile ready for the construction of Barneson Boulevard to be given the go ahead.
Results: Pb = 10 mg per kg

Testing Site 2 (Lab Sample 1) Onsite - OMD
Water drainage between very old levee (pre 1984 in living memory) and very old slag heap.
Approx 20 metres from Mindy Timber's House.
Results Pb = 45 mg per kg

Test Site 3 (Lab Sample 2) Onsite - OMD
Approx. halfway down side of old levee approx. 15 Metres from Back Door of Mindy Timber's House. Residents estimate the age of this levee to be pre 1984 in the living collective memory of them. They say that it is so old that it no longer is effective at stopping their houses from flooding.
Results Pb 47 mg per kg

There is more to the story than meets the eye.