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Soil contamination at new hospital railyards site

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Some soil contamination has been confirmed at the former railyards site where the new Women’s and Children’s Hospital (nWCH) will be built in the city but the state government says it is not enough to seriously hamper the project.

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The nWCH project team undertook a series of geotechnical and environmental testing between September and December last year at the old rail yard precinct, next to the Royal Adelaide Hospital off Port Road, with the results announced this morning.

During the soil testing, about 80 samples were extracted using a large drill rig to bore 100mm holes up to 50 metres down into the earth at the main nWCH site adjacent to the RAH, the Rail Triangle to the north of the main site and the Gaol Road Reserve to the west of the main site.

A portion of the site was known to be contaminated following investigations for the construction of the adjacent Royal Adelaide Hospital.

SA Health’s Executive Director of Infrastructure, Brendan Hewitt, said the latest testing found some residual soil contamination of heavy metals and hydrocarbons were found to be present at the sites.

“This contamination is owing to the former rail yards and naturally occurring substances. It is nothing outside of what we were already aware of and is consistent with the findings during the RAH planning process,” Hewitt said.

“Given the low concentrations, historical restrictions on groundwater extraction, and the low likelihood of encountering groundwater during construction activity, the risks to human and ecological health are considered low.

“As the project prepares for on-site site enabling work, construction environmental management plans and groundwater management plans will be developed to ensure that any potential human health and environmental risks are safely managed or mitigated.

“Some further minor works will need to be carried out to provide a full picture but at this stage we are confident the low levels of contamination can be adequately managed.”

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