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Environmental Service Group

Waratah Gasworks site remediation

Waratah Gasworks

About the project

Property and Development NSW (PDNSW) is leading and managing the remediation of contaminated properties on the former Waratah Gasworks site in Newcastle.

In September 2021, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) advised owners and occupiers of impacted properties associated with the former Waratah Gasworks site of their intention to declare these properties as significantly contaminated land under the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997.

At the same time, the EPA issued PDNSW with a Management Order to develop a remediation action plan (RAP)addressing the contamination issue.

PDNSW’s Environmental Service Group (ESG) is undertaking the works required under the Management Order, including demolition, excavation and remediation works in line with the approved RAP.

These works are being done in close consultation with all stakeholders, including residents and landholders within and adjacent to the area subject to the declaration, the EPA, the City of Newcastle (the council) and NSW Health.


The former Waratah Gasworks is understood to have operated on land bounded by Ellis, Turton and Georgetown roads, Waratah, from 1889 to 1926.

The NSW Government did not operate the gasworks, nor was it responsible for the contamination. However, in 2019 the NSW Government advised affected residents it would help manage the remediation process and work with landholders to clarify the options for remediation.

The initial stage of government’s involvement consisted of the EPA carrying out legal investigations into where the financial liability for the remediation work lay. This stage was to ensure, where possible, private industry would be held responsible for the pollution. PDNSW was unable to progress the remediation works while these legal investigations were underway.

While legal advice to date has not conclusively identified a liable party that can be held responsible for covering the cost of the remediation, ESG is now working to resolve the contamination issue.

Next steps

  • Remediation works begin on site in September 2023 and are expected to take up to 12 months to complete.
  • ESG will continue to consult with affected residents and landowners and key stakeholders throughout the remediation process.

Community updates

Frequently asked questions

Where and what is the Waratah Gasworks site?

The former Waratah Gasworks site is on residential land bound by Ellis, Turton and Georgetown roads in the Newcastle suburb of Waratah.

In 2019, the NSW Government received advice from the EPA that a former gasworks may have operated in Waratah. Due to the historical nature of this gasworks, department records contained little information. However, historical evidence confirmed that a gasworks operated at the site from 1889 to 1926.

The former gasworks was constructed in 1889 by Waratah Municipal Council and was decommissioned around 1928. The site was originally Crown Land (owned by the NSW Government).

Waratah Municipal Council merged with the Council of Greater Newcastle in 1938 and, consistent with practices of the time, the council and government records of the gasworks were extremely limited (if any).

The gasworks site was not known to either the state or local government, nor was it included in the list of locations of known gasworks sites maintained by the EPA. The site was brought to the EPA’s attention in 2016 via a public enquiry in relation to an historic map showing a small gasworks in the area.

What types of wastes and by-products are associated with old gasworks sites?

Substances associated with former gasworks sites typically include tars, oils, hydrocarbon sludges, spent oxides (including complex cyanides), ash and ammoniacal recovery wastes. Additional information on the types of wastes and by-products associated with former gasworks sites can be found on the EPA website.

Many of the wastes and by-products produced from gasworks were recycled or reused. However, it was common for some to be buried on or near gasworks sites, for instance in underground tar wells, liquor wells, pipes and purifier beds. At the former Waratah Gasworks site, not all this infrastructure was removed when the gasworks was decommissioned prior to the land being redeveloped and sold for residential use.

Why does the site need remediation and who will manage the work?

The council originally undertook an investigation of the site, including engaging an independent environmental consultant to undertake an environmental investigation from late-2016 until late-2017.

Owing to the historical use of the area for gasworks operations, the eastern portion of the site was found to have concentrations of gasworks-related substances above screening criteria and background concentrations.

Specifically, the investigation identified the need to remediate 13 properties within the former Waratah Gasworks footprint to minimise residents’ potential exposure to gasworks-related substances.

Although the gasworks was not operated by state government, nor was the state responsible for the contamination, the government identified PDNSW as the most appropriate authority to manage the contaminated site and work with the affected landholders on remediation.

How and when will the site be remediated?

PDNSW and its contractor, Enviropacific, will soon start demolition and excavation works at 13 affected properties at Ellis, Turton and Georgetown Roads to remove legacy waste and infrastructure and remediate contaminated soil.

Throughout the remediation works, our aim is to minimise disruption caused and to ensure measures are in place to mitigate any impacts on the community.

Safety remains our highest priority. Security fencing and signage will be erected around demolition areas for public safety purposes.

Once the site is remediated, the contamination associated with the former gasworks will be resolved so the land is to a standard suitable for ongoing residential use.

Who is being consulted about the remediation?

PDNSW will keep all stakeholders, including residents, landholders, the EPA, NSW Health and the council, up to date as the remediation works progress.

The government’s priority is the affected residents and their concerns and PDNSW will continue to consult directly with landholders.

Are there any health risks associated with the site?

The eastern portion of the site has been found to have concentrations of gasworks-related substances above screening criteria and background concentrations.

In 2016 the council consulted with Hunter New England Local Health District (NSW Health) and the EPA to provide precautionary advice to affected landholders regarding health and environmental concerns.

This advice remains in place for residents in the area until further action has been carried out. Residents on the affected 13 properties should:

  • not eat any vegetables grown or eggs laid by hens on the property.
  • avoid having areas of bare soil by maintaining a grass cover or other structural covering   over the areas.
  • reduce exposure to soil during gardening activities by minimising dust generation, wearing gloves and washing hands after handling soil.
  • only allow children to play in sandpits or soil in raised beds or structures above the natural ground level which contain sand or soil that has not been sourced from onsite.

Who do I contact for more information?

The PDNSW website will be kept up to date throughout the project. Questions can be emailed to community.property@dpie.nsw.gov.au or call the community hotline on 1300 208 501.

Landholders and residents are being regularly consulted and contacted with specific updates on works and timeframes.

For more information about other related matters, please see contact details below:

  • Specific health advice: Your General Practitioner
  • General health information: Hunter New England Local Health District on 1300 066 055
  • Other contamination information: NSW EPA Environment Line on 13 15 55.

For more information

Email community.property@dpie.nsw.gov.au or call 1300 208 501.