A request by The Echo for the report that underpins advice around contamination of Butler Street Reserve has been refused by Byron Shire Council staff.
According to Council staff, that report commenced in 2017, yet there is no indication when the public can expect it to be completed.
Located opposite the bus terminal in Byron Bay, Butler Street Reserve is known to have been an unlicensed landfill up until the mid-1970s. While per-and-poly-fluoroalkyl substance (PFAS) have been found, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) say ‘Finding PFAS in the environment does not mean there is a human health risk’.
Contamination was used, in part, as reason to move the monthly market from the reserve; however, Council announced it was safe for the smaller farmers’ market to return to a ‘stable’ part of the land.
The Echo asked an EPA spokesperson: ‘Are there any health concerns, from the EPA’s perspective if the monthly markets relocate back to the reserve?’
An EPA spokesperson replied, ‘The EPA understands that activity at the site beyond the scope of the farmers’ market would require more extensive control measures’.
The spokesperson also said, ‘Council is responsible for the investigation. The EPA is currently liaising with Council about the start of the next phase of the PFAS investigation works. PFAS investigations are often complex and the need for further investigation might be identified as part of this phase. Council has compiled a draft Environmental Management Plan for the site, which focuses on the return of the farmers’ market (small scale market) and the necessary control measures for protecting human health’.
Council staff added, ‘The most recent investigations have been regarding PFAS, but there is no single summary/analysis report covering all contamination issues across the site. It has been an iterative process of investigation, as EPA requests for further investigations have been made’.
‘Owing to the fact that the PFAS investigation is ongoing, Council is not in a position to release a comprehensive report’.