Contamination fears prompt Port Stephens Council to fence off dirt piles at Salt Ash equestrian centre

PORT Stephens Council has installed siltation fencing around a stockpile of soil and debris dumped at the Salt Ash equestrian complex amid community concerns about possible contamination.

STOCKPILED: Dirt piles at the Bruce MacKenzie Complex in Salt Ash have now been fenced off. Picture: Supplied.

STOCKPILED: Dirt piles at the Bruce MacKenzie Complex in Salt Ash have now been fenced off. Picture: Supplied.

An estimated 2000 tonnes of material was dumped at the site by the council for the purpose of building a BMX track.

Since the dumping in August, serious concerns have been raised by equestrian club members and councillors Geoff Dingle and Peter Kafer about the possibility of contamination.

A council spokesman this week confirmed to the Examiner that about 98 per cent of the soil had come from Medowie's Peppertree Road, which was independently confirmed to be uncontaminated.

"The remainder is road base mixed with concrete and asphaltic concrete relocated from Salt Ash Hall," he said.

"While it was delivered to site without testing, it is referred to in the original assessment from Cardno Geotech Specialists as bitumen and gravel. There is no evidence of acid sulfate soil and Cardno is undertaking further formal assessment to confirm this."

The spokesman said that fencing around the stockpiles was an extra control measure to ensure the material stayed in place during heavy rainfall or other disturbance.

At the October 27 council meeting, a last minute bid to shift the BMX track away from the Salt Ash complex to a more safety-friendly location failed.

In a public address, pony club spokeswoman Kim Buresti referred to having horses near bike riders as a "recipe for disaster".

"The pony club members are not against a BMX track. We are concerned about the risk element and we are concerned about the potential for damage and vandalism."

A notice of motion to approve the development application was passed seven votes to three with supporters citing other multi-use council facilities as examples where horses and sport can mix.

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