Barangaroo is a former industrial site, and there remains contamination from the old Millers Point Gasworks and from landfill. Infrastructure NSW is cleaning up this historic contamination on behalf of the NSW Government. 

Barangaroo is the site of the old Millers Point Gasworks. Although it was decommissioned in 1921, to this day, underneath Hickson Road and the as-yet undeveloped sections of the site there remain by-products of those gasworks - tanks containing coal tar, and large volumes of contaminated soil.

In 2009, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) declared that the site required remediation. Infrastructure NSW is delivering this remediation in cooperation with the EPA. 

Extensive investigations and planning have been undertaken. This has included:

  • extensive soil investigation works, drilling 800 bores to obtain thousands of samples;
  • undertaking health risk assessments;
  • preparation of remediation action plans;
  • obtaining development approvals through the Department of Planning and Environment; and
  • procuring appropriately qualified contractors.

In the past few years several remediation tasks have already been completed at Barangaroo, including removal of asbestos in landfill at what is now the financial and retail district. Two further remediation projects to clean up the old gasworks waste on the site and under Hickson Road have commenced and will take up to three years to complete.

The first project is underneath Hickson Road, between approximately the addresses of 30-34 and 38 Hickson Rd. The second is on site in the northern section of Barangaroo South and the areas known as Blocks Four and Five. 

The remediation area does not include Barangaroo Reserve and will not affect the amenity of, or access to, the new headland park. 

Lendlease, on behalf of the then Barangaroo Delivery Authority prepared a remediation action plan that was reviewed and approved by an independent site auditor. Infrastructure NSW is now managing remediation of the old Millers Point Gasworks, drawing from Australian and international remediation experts and contracting Lendlease to deliver the clean-up.

There are two remediation projects – on Hickson Road, and on Blocks 4 and 5 of the Barangaroo site – which will take more than three years to complete.  During this time, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will monitor the works.

On site, work has commenced to prepare for a conventional ‘dig, treat and fill’ approach. A large underground ‘bathtub’ wall is being constructed from the surface down to bedrock to prevent harbour water from entering this area during later excavation.

Large remediation tents will be constructed onsite to mitigate dust and odour impacts to the surrounding community. All materials excavated will be removed off site to licensed landfills using covered haulage trucks.

Excavation of both Hickson Road and the site is expected to start in late 2017. Extensive monitoring of dust, odour, groundwater, air and noise levels will take place, and significant amounts of data will be provided to the EPA. Summary data related to Barangaroo’s Environment Protection Licence is published monthly here 

For more information:

For general information, feedback, questions or complaints, please contact 1300 039 733 (available 24 hours a day).

Environmental reporting

Infrastructure NSW holds an Environmental Protection Licence (EPL) under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997. The licence manages the environmental impact of the activities on site, and as part of this licence the Authority undertakes air and water monitoring. 

Details of the EPL are: 

Licence Number: 13336
Licencee: Barangaroo Delivery Authority
Licencee's Address: Level 21, 201 Kent Street, Sydney 2000

A copy of the license is located on the EPA's website. This monitoring data is provided to the Environment Protection Authority each month. As of September 2015 the commercial towers and Barangaroo Reserve no longer required an Environmental Protection Licence. 

As of 6 February 2012, changes to the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (NSW) require that relevant authorities are immediately notified when a pollution incident occurs where material harm to the environment is caused or threatened.

The Public Pollution Incident Response Management Plan for Lendlease, as the contractor responsible for carrying out remediation works on site and on Hickson Road, can be found here

In the event of a relevant pollution incident, the Public Pollution Incident Response Management Plan for the respective sites will be implemented. Key links:

Safety and amenity

Some compounds within coal tar and soil contaminated with gasworks waste may be carcinogenic to humans and toxic to aquatic ecosystems. There are a number of detailed reports on historic gasworks contamination at Barangaroo which are publicly available, including this one from 2010 on the EPA's website.

If a person is not exposed to contamination, then there is not a risk to their health. There are two things that currently prevent exposure:

  1. The concrete slab that covers Barangaroo. In order to carry out the EPA-required remediation works, the concrete slab will need to be removed to provide access to the contamination on the areas known as Block Four and Block Five. During the ‘dig, treat and fill’ operation, negatively pressurised tents fitted with air filtration units will cover the area to ensure there are no exposure pathways for dust or odours from the works being carried out. Once excavated, all materials will be sealed to ensure no exposure to dust or odours can occur during transport, and sent for treatment in EPA-licensed facilities. Water carts will be used in the usual manner to suppress dust generated by transport operations.
  2. The road surface and slab on top of Hickson Road. The road will need to be excavated in the affected parts, and a similar technique to that used on site will be used on Hickson Road to remediate the underground tanks. 

Extensive security arrangements will be in place to prevent unauthorised access. Extensive monitoring of dust, odour, groundwater, air and noise levels will take place, and significant amounts of data will be provided to the EPA. Summary data related to Barangaroo’s Environment Protection Licence is published monthly here 

This work will not affect the amenity of, or access to, Barangaroo Reserve, which is unaffected by the contamination. 

Site Auditor

An independent Site Auditor, accredited by the EPA, reviews and approves all aspects of the relevant remediation works. The Site Auditor issues Site Audit Statements certifying that remedial action plans are appropriate and/or the remediated land is suitable for use. Site Audit Statements can only be issued when the Site Auditor is satisfied that the remediation works will be and/or have been completed according to all statutory processes and the EPA requirements.