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Experiment Farm / Hambledon Reserve Harris Park

Investigations in Parkes Street Nature Strip – May 2020

Appropriately qualified environmental consultants have been engaged to carry out soil investigation works in the nature strip of this area from May 18th.  The purpose of these works is to test the soil beneath the nature strip, and determine whether the soils are affected by asbestos or other contaminants.  These works will inform designs to improve the capping of contaminated soils that have been previously identified buried underneath the adjacent Experiment Farm parklands.


How will the works be carried out safely?

The works will involve the use of hand operated tools to dig boreholes in a number of locations, and take samples of the soil at various depths to be tested for contaminants.  In accordance with SafeWork requirements, appropriate personal protective equipment will be worn by workers during the testing, and air quality monitoring will be carried out throughout the works.  Barricades will be in place to ensure a safe distance between pedestrians the works area.

Will the footpath be accessible during the works?

During works, some areas of the footpath will be closed.  Detours will be in place and marked with signage.  Pedestrians requiring use of a footpath will be directed to use the footpath on the northern side of Hassall street, using the pedestrian crossings at the traffic lights at the intersections of Parkes and Harris Street to the west, and at Hassall Street and Alfred Street to the east.

How long will the works take?

The testing is expected to take up to 5 working days, weather permitting.  Each area will be reinstated and inspected before being reopened to public access.

Previous investigations at this site

Experiment Farm is one of a number of sites across NSW that have been identified by the NSW EPA as having potentially received waste from James Hardie Industries as fill material.

Soil investigations were undertaken in the parklands of Experiment Farm and Hambledon Cottage reserve during 2017 and 2018.  These investigations confirmed the presence of fill materials, including asbestos containing materials, at various depths in a number of areas beneath the parklands. 

Aerial imagery and other records suggest that the fill material was placed in the area between the 1950’s and 1960’s.

While a permanent physical cap is designed and constructed, management works at this site have focussed on maintaining healthy grass coverage, mulching, and prohibiting excavation works that could breach the protective surface soils and expose the fill layer.  As the site is a State Heritage site, a heritage review has also been completed to ensure works are designed and carried out in a way that protects the archaeological and historical significance of the site.

Following completion of this review, Council has applied for, and been granted an exemption under section 60 of the Heritage Act 1977 by the Heritage Council of New South Wales to allow the works to be commissioned and carried out.  This exemption was granted in March 2020.