Five million dollars has been made available to assess flood-contaminated across the Northern Rivers by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The funding is for the Lismore, Richmond Valley, Ballina, Kyogle, Tweed, Byron, and Clarence local government areas (LGAs) residents, small businesses, and council’s to assess, remediate and manage contaminated lands following the devastating floods in early 2022.
NSW EPA Chief Executive Officer Tony Chappel was in Lismore yesterday to announce the new program and said the EPA is committed to doing all it can to help the region recover.
‘Our role at the EPA is to protect the community and environment, and this program is about ensuring contaminated land is addressed so people have peace of mind about their land,’ Mr Chappel said.
‘I cannot begin to imagine how hard it has been for the community to return home after the flooding only to face a painstaking clean-up. We want to give Northern Rivers communities who have made that extraordinary effort the certainty that the land they live on is healthy and safe.
‘This program will provide free, independent assessments for eligible properties, which will reveal if soils have been contaminated. If a property is deemed to be contaminated, we will also provide landholder assistance in cleaning-up soils and returning the environment to the best state possible.’
The funding will also be used to assess any flood contamination to public areas as well as providing resources to manage contamination from future natural disasters.
Mr Chappel also highlighted the work the EPA has been doing since the floods in terms of cleaning up the rivers and shorelines.
‘I want to thank all our EPA officers who have been working with other agencies to remove waste and debris from across the region,’ he said.
‘The volumes have been enormous and in the past week alone, we have removed 261 cubic metres of debris from our waterways, equal to that of three semi-trailer trucks.’
The NSW EPA runs a number of programs to help regions impacted by floods, with the Shoreline Cleanup Program removing more than 17,800 cubic metres of flood debris from waterways in an area extending from the Queensland border to the Illawarra. The Flood Recovery Program for Contaminated Lands is jointly funded by the State and Commonwealth disaster recovery funding agreement (DRFA). Residents can now apply on the Service NSW website. The EPA has also launched an interactive visual flood debris map which demonstrates the scale and scope of the clean-up effort, as well as sharing stories from the community and EPA officers.