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New city high school site "contaminated"


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The land chosen by the State Government to host Adelaide’s newest city high school is contaminated and flood prone, a former landscape architect says.

On Tuesday, the State Government announced it would spend $115 million to acquire and renovate the University of South Australia’s Reid Building on Frome Street to host a new city high school.

However, Vice President of the Adelaide Park Lands Preservation Society and former landscape architect Damien Mugavin told 891 ABC radio this morning that the land surrounding the building was contaminated.

“The areas surrounding the Reid Building have a long history of uses that (has) left contamination on the site,” he said.

“Some of that might have been from the hospital or just general disposal of coal cinders and general rubbish.

“It was such that … the contamination level was not suitable for human contact, so it was buried on that site.”

Mugavin – who worked on the land as a landscape architect for Adelaide City Council during its upgrade of the entrance to the Botanic Gardens – said the southern side of the Reid Building had waste products buried beneath it.

“(They) had to be buried a metre deep and filled over and … it can’t be disturbed,” he said.

“Any suggestion that you could build sports fields or car parking or anything like that is just out of the question.”

He said it was safe for people to use the land, but that it could not be disturbed without an expensive state government clean-up operation.

He also said the Reid Building itself was “a lemon” which regularly flooded.

“I suspect that’s … one of the reasons why the university wants to get rid of it,” he said.

“The building itself is obsolete.

“It’s a lemon of a building (and) it’s flood prone.

“The actual first ground floor level of that building is elevated out of the ground because the area is flood prone.”

Premier Jay Weatherill told reporters on Tuesday that construction and renovations for the high school would begin before the end of the year.

The school, which will specialise in health and sciences, is expected to open in 2019.

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