Hunter Street ‘nasties’ won’t change light rail cost: government

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Hunter Street ‘nasties’ won’t change light rail cost: government TweetFacebookNewcastle Herald that he was not aware of coal tar being found but the air “absolutely stank of tar” in the first two or three days of work outside his store this month.

He said he had seen a black, wet substance in the material dug up outside his shop and had felt slightly nauseous at the end of each day.

Unions NSW spokesman Peter McPherson said the discovery of far more “nasties” than predicted had prompted fresh negotiations between head contractor Downer EDI and the state government over the cost of the light rail project.

Buta Transport for NSW spokesperson denied that an excess of contaminants had brought Downer and the government back to the bargaining table.

The spokesperson said the discovery of coal tar had been “expected” and had not affected the 2.7km light rail’s price tag, which stands at $290 million, not including $200 million to shut down and repurpose Newcastle’s heavy rail corridor.

RMS websiteHerald with aphotograph of what he identified as viscous coal tar dripping off a slabof excavated concrete in Hunter Street.

A substance transport engineer Ron Brown says is viscous coal tar on a chunk of concrete in Hunter Street.

He said coal tar was still visible in the street on Wednesday.

The NSW Roads and Maritime Services website says coal tar “may still exist as a road surface layer but is more commonly found as a discreet subsurface layer overlaid by more modern bitumen asphalt”.

“The most obvious way most Roads and Maritime workers identify the presence of coal tar asphalt, as distinct from bitumen, is the distinctive odour it gives off when heated,” it says.

“This odour occurs when the coal tar asphalt is milled and the friction heat from the milling machine releases coal tar fumes.

“Cancer risk can be managed with appropriate work processes and personal protective equipment.”

The RMS says the chemicals that make up coal tar have been found to cause serious skin irritation and photosensitisation, increasing the risk of sunburn,if protective equipment is not used.

The agency, after a risk assessment in 2007, decided that excavated coal tar must be taken to a licensed landfill and not re-used for any purpose, although the risk to the public when coal tar was re-used in road construction was “negligible”.

The website directs workers to stop work immediately if they find coal tar, wash exposed skin, apply sunscreen and wear overalls, impervious gloves, safety glasses and respirators.