Transport for NSW has identified lead contamination in the current and former rail corridor at Bungendore, near the existing primary school and not far from the proposed site for the new high school.
So far, areas where lead levels have been detected include the unofficial car park for the Bungendore Public School on the corner of Majara Street and Kings Highway, and the woolshed used by the Lake George Men’s Shed.
These areas are next to the rail tracks and include locations where trains used to slow down, stop or unload.
According to a letter from Transport for NSW in late September to local residents, authorities “don’t have all the answers yet as [they] are still learning about the contamination and what it means”.
A community information session was held today (7 October) to allow residents to ask questions about the contamination.
It’s likely the contamination harks back to when the rail line at Bungendore, which is currently used to carry passengers between Sydney and Canberra, was used to transport lead ore from the mine at Captains Flat to Bungendore in uncovered wagons.
It’s not the first time lead contamination in the region has been an issue. Earlier this year, the preschool at Captains Flat was closed when elevated levels of lead – three times the safe level – were detected in some areas of the school’s playground from the former Lake George Mine.
School operations were then moved to a demountable building.
The lead contamination could also be the latest development in an already troubled saga for the proposed Bungendore High School which has seen two community action groups at loggerheads – the Bungendore High School Action Group and the Save Bungendore Park group (previously the Bungendore Park Action Group).
While both groups want a high school, the Save Bungendore Park Group, which is opposed to the chosen site, known as the Majara and Gibraltar Street precinct, adjacent to Mick Sherd Oval, has previously said they were considering legal action to stop the school from being built on the site.
The Bungendore High School Action Group has long been lobbying for a high school and is opposed to further delaying the project.
Former NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro, who last week resigned, had repeatedly promised to deliver the school in the proposed location.
The State Significant Development application was lodged for the high school on Monday, 13 September, with artist impressions of what the development could look like made available online late last month.
According to some sources, the lead contamination could once again delay the project, but there are also concerns as to what it will mean for the current primary school – the car park of which has now been closed due to the lead contamination detected last month.
The NSW Health website states that young children are at greatest risk from lead exposure due to its impact on mental and physical development.