Healthy Environment, Healthy Community, Healthy Business

Environment Protection Authority

Review finds low risk of mercury contamination in residential areas of Botany and Randwick

Media release: 6 April 2016

A three-year, independent enquiry into mercury exposure in Botany and Randwick in Eastern Sydney has been finalised with the release of an Environmental Health Risk Assessment by Independent consultants Senversa.

The assessment found that the risk of mercury contamination in residential areas is low – supported by the results of stages one and two.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Chief Environmental Regulator Mark Gifford said this was very good news for local residents and workers.

“The Botany Mercury Independent Review into offsite mercury contamination has been one of the most thorough investigations of its type in Australia,” Mr Gifford said.

“The comprehensive process has drawn on independent experts to assess any potential mercury impacts in the suburbs around the former plant,” Mr Gifford said.

Mr Gifford said the EPA would be hosting a public information session on Thursday 14 April to explain the results of the final review to local residents.

“We want to share the process and final results with the local community and answer any questions people may have. I encourage people to come along on Thursday 14 April to discuss the outcomes of the review with the EPA, Senversa and members of the Steering Panel,” said Mr Gifford.

Senversa Principal Risk Assessor Kristi Hanson said “The risk assessment reviewed mercury concentrations in soil, air, sediment and fish, and compared them to risk-based screening criteria developed by Australian and international health organisations. The conclusion was that mercury levels were below those that would cause unacceptable risk to human health, and were similar to those commonly present in urban areas.”  

Each stage of the review has been overseen by the steering panel which includes representatives from the EPA, community, Randwick and Botany councils, the Office of Environment and Heritage, NSW Health, an expert toxicologist and an independent chemical engineer.

The Botany Review Steering Panel said “Following the three independent stages, the Steering Panel are satisfied that the risk of mercury exposure in Botany and Randwick from Orica’s former Chlor Alkali plant at Matraville is low.”

The Botany Mercury Independent Review has included three stages.

  • Stage 1 involved the analysis of around 12,000 pages of historical and current data and information from the community. It found that the risk of off-site soil contamination around Botany Industrial Park is low.
  • Stage 2 analysed over 300 samples of soil, vapour, fish and sediments. The results showed that the risk from mercury being present in soil and stormwater drains in the residential areas around Botany Industrial Park is very low.
  • Stage 3 used data collected during Stages 1 and 2 of the review to assess the health risks to local residents. Senversa’s findings show that the health risk from mercury contamination in residential areas of Botany and Randwick is low.

The EPA will publish a summary report of the entire Botany Independent Mercury Review in the coming months.

More information:

A public forum will be held on Thursday 14th April 2016 to provide the community with the opportunity to discuss Senversa’s results with representatives from the EPA, Senversa and the Steering Panel.

Thursday, 14 April 2016, 5.30-8.30pm

Botany Town Hall, Senior Citizens Centre, cnr of Botany Rd and Edward Street, entrance James Bourke Place (lane way off Edward St)

Contact: EPA Public Affairs

Page last updated: 12 April 2016