WAG investigates WestConnex drilling in Sydney Park

Against the wishes of the City of Sydney, WestConnex has forced its way into Sydney Park to establish up to six big geotechnical drills. The WestConnex Action Group is trying to get to the bottom of why this is happening. 

 

 

Introduction

Earlier in July, the Lord Mayor of Sydney posted some upsetting news on her facebook page. Despite a number of refusals from Council, WestConnex its using powers under the NSW Roads Act to force its way into Sydney Park. 

The Lord Mayor posted a formal WestConnex 'notification' that by then was also in the documentary library on WestConnex's website. Although we cannot say for certain that no residents received the notification, we do know that WAG's members living very close to the Park received no notification at all. Even after they were told a notification would be delivered, nothing appeared in letterboxes.

In her facebook post, Clover Moore explained that the notification appears to mean:

...large trucks and drilling rigs digging deep holes in the park, from Thursday 18 July.Sydney Park is the backyard for over 20,000 city residents, and people travel from all over Sydney to enjoy its wonderful wetlands, play areas and green space.

Over the past few years, we’ve worked hard to protect it from the State Government’s destructive and environmentally irresponsible WestConnex toll road project.

This has been a difficult battle, with tunnelling proposed under the park and its proximity to the enormous St Peters interchange.

It’s outrageous that this project will further impact on the inner city’s precious parklands, and the City will continue to fight to ensure Sydney Park is preserved, not trashed for the sake of a toll road.

WestConnex Action Group questions to WestConnex

By Monday July 22nd, there were three drills operating on Sydney Park. The community had no idea why the drilling is happening, and whether the drilling is related to reports last year that methane levels were elevated around the perimeter of the Park. ( WestConnex is operating along alongside large parts of the edges of the park. 

The only information included in WestConnex's formal notification is that drilling is one of the first tasks undertaken in tunnel construction to "to better understand existing groundwater conditions" and 'inform the project design." This raises two questions: 

  • groundwater is a critical issue in Sydney Park which has been developed on an old landfill site that is near low lying local waterways?
  • why has tunnelling started under nearby streets when it has not completed investigation necessary to complete the tunnel design. 

In order to get answers to these and other questions, WAG delivered a letter to WestConnex M4/M5 Project Director Terry Chapman asking for a meeting with himself or senior engineers last Tuesday morning. We wanted to sit down with people who actually understood the situation, not with community relations people who were giving contradictory information to residents. Sometimes, this may be through no fault of their own because they are told what to say and often have incomplete or out of date information.  

Fourteen questions for WestConnex M4/M5 Director Terry Chapman

  1. When was the decision made to do this drilling?

  2. Who made the decision? and on whose advice was the decision taken?
  3. What events led to that decision?

  4. What is the purpose of the drilling and what use will be made of the data collected?

  5. Will the results of the data be shared with the City of Sydney and the community?

  6. Why was this drilling not done before the tunnelling began?

  7. What risks are entailed with drilling 13 metres under the homes of residents?

  8. How many other tunnels has your consortium built that are less than 20 metres under homes? We would like details for these projects.

  9. Has the team come up with any unexpected results in drilling for the M4 M5 including in other areas?

  10. Given that so much drilling was done prior to approval, why has so much more drilling been necessary?

  11. Did you have access to the data collected during these earlier drills? If not, why not?

  12. We have been informed that tunnelling will continue northwards while the more difficult tunnelling under Crown Street and nearby areas is undertaken. Wouldn’t it be in the interests of public safety to delay until issues to do with this early section are sorted out?

  13. Does the drilling relate in any way to reports that there were elevated levels of methane in the Park?

  14. How will the tunnelling and tunnels potentially relate over the short and long term to the park, including its ground, groundwater, ponds, plants and wildlife?

We received a letter from WestConnex on Monday evening, informing us that we had not given sufficient notice for a meeting and that our questions will be answered in writing.

On Tuesday morning, WAG members attended the site and spoke to a foreman who claimed to know very little about the reasons for the drilling, or even how deep it was going. 

WAG has responded that we look forward to receiving answers but that we still require a meeting. 

We do not intend to let this matter rest and will keep the community informed. 

Meanwhile, we are very concerned about the tunnelling that has already begun 13 metres under homes in St Peters. Can you imagine living with a major road less than metres below your bedroom? 

Although we are more concerned about the impact of WestConnex on the groundwater and ecosystem of Sydney Park, we were also concerned that a number of deep tyre marks can already been seen. 

 

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