Article Updated 21 April 2022 at 7.57 pm (further information provided by Lane Cove Council).
JQZ is developing a combined residential/retail/commercial site in the St Leonards South Precient called 88 by JQZ.
The development is described on their website as follows:
“The focal point in St Leonards’ monumental urban transformation, Eighty Eight By JQZ, places residents front and centre to transport, leisure and absolute luxury. Whilst breathtaking Harbour and City Skyline views take centre stage in the apartments above, at ground level, a vibrant new retail and dining precinct, supermarket, Civic Plaza, and public library will, for the first time, bring CBD-style living to the North Shore.”
According to Shopping Centre News:
“Set to be a lifestyle destination for both locals and visitors, Mall 88 provides an open-air plaza and dining precinct, with a combination of cafés, alfresco dining, and a laneway eat-street, in addition to a public library and medical centre, across four floors, in the heart of St Leonards.
As the centrepiece of recently completed 88 by JQZ development, Mall 88 is the area’s first modern retail precinct that incorporates a civic plaza and public library, according to Colliers’ Managing Director of Real Estate Management, Julia Batterley.”
There will also be a new Lane Cove Library in the development, funded by the Developer under a Voluntary Planning Agreement.
Berry Creek Diesel Spill
On Good Friday, 7 April 2023, residents living around Berrys Creek (accessed via entrances on Lane Cove Council and North Sydney Council streets) started smelling a powerful diesel/petrol/oil odour.
The smell originated from a stormwater drain flowing into Berrys Creek. An oil-like substance was visible on the creek’s surface, and sludge was visible around the Creek’s banks and rocks.
Berrys Creek runs through Greenwich and Wollstonecraft and has been identified by the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA) as part of local reserves that are rare examples of a natural place within a highly urban city.
AILA are of the view that the area is of state significance as one of the few remaining natural landscapes on Sydney Harbour that is mainly unmodified. Read the report here.
The Heritage Council of NSW is seeking Lane Cove Council’s support to create an area called Badangi which will comprise a series of public reserves around Greenwich Point and the Wollstonecraft peninsula. The reserve will extend west, around Gore Cove, Manns Point, Holloway Park, Greendale Park, Smoothey Park and Gore Cove Reserve.
The waterways include Berry Creek, most of Gore Cove, most of Berrys Bay, and some Unincorporated Water of Sydney Harbour.
Reason for the Spill
A Lane Cove Council Spokesperson provided the following information on 21 April 2023:
“The diesel generator (a requirement for A Grade office accommodation) located on top of the 14 storey office building was briefly tested late on Wednesday, 5 April to ensure it would start ahead of a full test the following day. This test is to ensure the building can operate entirely on backup power. When the building owner’s contractors (30 people) attended the site for the test on the Thursday (6 April), the leak was discovered. The building owner arranged for the immediate (same day) drainage of the onsite stormwater detention tank. The building owner’s contractors investigated the creek and there was no visible evidence in the creek that the spill has spread. They mistakenly concluded the spill had been contained.
The Building Owner confirmed yesterday that the designer of the bunding system, holding tank and generator combination on the roof have accepted responsibility that the design/installation is defective and requires improvement. The works will begin shortly and the generator will not be used in the interim. This design fault would not have been detected by a Certifier or untrained person as it is a specialist matter.”
ITC Note: JQZ was contacted for comment, and their spokesperson’s comments are at the bottom of this article. They did not provide this level of detail to ITC.
Timeline of Events
- NSW Police contact NSW Fire and Rescue at 9.50 am on 7 April 2023 to notify them of a diesel spell in the Berrys Creek vicinity.
- NSW Fire and Rescue dispatched Fire Crews and Hazmat Crew to Berrys Creek.
- NSW Fire and Rescue Hazmat team install booms as temporary measures to assist with the contamination.
- NSW Fire and Rescue hands over the site to Lane Cove Council and EPA on 7 April 2023 at around midday.
- Investigations reveal the spill is diesel and the source of the diesel is from the JQZ site at 88 Christie Street St Leonards.
- The EPA decided that as the spill is from a building in the Lane Cove Council area, Lane Cove Council is responsible for liaising with the polluter and the clean-up.
- JQZ contacts Enviro to undertake clean-up works. Residents first see Enviro trucks on site on Easter Monday (three days after the spill).
- Residents see full-time Enviro staff and trucks on Tuesday, 11 April 2022.
- Lane Cove Council posted an article on their website on Friday, 15 April 2022, at 4.30 pm with – Diesel Spill Contained.
- Clean-up was finished 12 days after the initial spill. The clean-up continued until about 2 pm on 19 April 2023 (when Enviro’s truck left, and hazard tape was removed).
A Lane Cove Council Spokesperson advised the following on 21 April 2023 in relation to the above timeline:
“On Good Friday (7 April), Council staff were made aware of the pollution incident and responded. Containment measures were put in place in the creek. The Building Owner was contacted and attended the site to develop further remediation action. Council engaged a contractor to clean-up on Good Friday. The Building Owner, ahead of Council’s Order, arranged for a separate contractor, Enviro, to pump water and diesel from the creek network. On Easter Sunday, Council staff issued an order formalising all the requirements. The Building Owner’s contractor, Enviro continued their work on Monday (10 April). An ecologist will be required to provide final clearance.”
ITC Note: ITC has received information from several different residents and other sources and we have been consistently told that Enviro trucks were not seen at the site until 10 April 2022.
Lane Cove Council has issued a clean-up notice. A ‘Cost Compliance Order’ is being prepared for JQZ to fully reimburse Council for all costs. ITC asked for a copy of the clean-up notice and was advised I would need to submit a GIPA (which has an application cost of $25, and then ITC usually pays around $300 for the information provided). [ITC Note: A GIPA is NSW’s FOI legislation]
This is in direct contrast with the TfNSW’s approach to transparency, where you can submit an online request for copies of notices and determinations under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act (POEO), including Prevention and Clean-up Notices, Penalty notices, Court prosecutions underway and Decisions of past prosecutions.
Oily Slick and Odour
Residents who visited the site observed an oily slick at the Wollenstancraft end of Berrys Creek and the Greenwich end.
Over the Easter weekend, stormwater was rushing out at speed from the Berry Creek stormwater drain due to the amount of rain. It is more than likely the temporary bunding would struggle to cope with this impact. Evidence shows that the bunding may have been disintegrating (tuffs of bunding material were seen by locals down the Harbour end of Berry Creek). Does this mean diesel was in the water further down Berrys Creek before Enviro started the clean-up? A resident who visited the site on the same day as ITC told ITC that the smell down the Berrys Creek harbour end was very strong, and the white matter (see below) also had a very strong odour.
ITC visited the site on Sunday, 16 April 2022, and the smell of diesel at the Russell Street entrance was overpowering. It is more than likely that the odour would impact nearby residents on Russell Street. When ITC visited the site, the noise from the Enviro trucks could be clearly heard in Russell Street. One Enviro truck pumped the diesel (and water), and other trucks made several daily trips to remove the polluted water for processing.
Fire and Rescue NSW Zone Commander, Superintendent Kel McNamara, told ITC:
“Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) responded to reports of a diesel spill in the vicinity of Berrys Creek, Wollstonecraft, around 9:50 am last Friday (7 April).
FRNSW committed two specialist HAZMAT teams, local firefighters, and an experienced Duty Commander to this incident over two hours.
The crews acted quickly to install booms in an effort to absorb any pollutant and limit potential impacts to the environment.
FRNSW also notified the NSW Environment Protection Agency (EPA) and Lane Cove Council, who further managed and investigated the situation.”
A spokesperson from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) told ITC.
“The NSW EPA responded to reports of an oil spill in Berrys Creek, near Greenwich and Wollstonecraft, on Friday, 7 April 2023.
It was determined that the source of the discharge incident was from a development site which is regulated by Lane Cove Council.
Councils are the Appropriate Regulatory Authority (ARA) for stormwater pollution, except where it comes from an EPA licensed facility or state or local government site. Further information on this can be found here.
The EPA does liaise with councils when it becomes aware of a pollution incident, to provide advice on management and clean-up, but Council still remains the ARA.”
Sydney Water Media (who ITC has on speed dial) advised that their maps indicated Lane Cove Council owns the stormwater drain, and they are responsible for its maintenance and discharge. Stormwater runoff not captured at St Leonards South Development sites feed into the Berrys Creek stormwater drains.
As Berrys Creek is on the border of the North Sydney Council and Lane Cove Council local government area, North Sydney Council was notified of the diesel smell by its residents.
A North Sydney Council spokesperson told ITC:
“North Sydney Council liaised with Lane Cove Council soon after we became aware of a strong smell of petrol/chemicals in Berrys Creek. After both councils conducted investigations, it was identified that the source of the substance contaminating the stream was in Lane Cove’s LGA. Lane Cove Council, therefore, commenced the clean-up works, taking all necessary measures.”
“A diesel leak has been contained, and clean up has begun at Berrys Creek that runs through Greenwich and Wollstonecraft.
A diesel generator being tested at a new building at St Leonards leaked into the stormwater system and contaminated the creek last week.
On Good Friday morning (7 April), Crows Nest fire station alerted the Council to diesel being discharged into Berrys Creek via the Council’s stormwater system.
Council Rangers responded immediately and, with the assistance of Fire & Rescue Hazmat crews, were able to contain the spill within the creek.
Council engaged contractors to begin emergency cleaning and removal of the diesel from the creek.
The source of the leak is a commercial tower at the JQZ development on Christie St in St Leonards. A rooftop generator at the building, which had been powered on for testing had sprung a leak. It spilled into rainwater downpipes which feed into the onsite stormwater retention pit. This pit empties into the stormwater system and flows into the creek. The contamination did not make it to the harbour.
The owners of the building engaged a contractor to remove the contaminated water in the pit which was taken off-site and disposed of appropriately. A clean-up notice has been issued and JQZ are in contact with Council providing updates as work progresses. JQZ have since engaged their own contractor to take over clean-up operations. JQZ has fully cooperated with the investigation and clean up. A ‘Cost Compliance Order’ is being prepared for JQZ to fully reimburse Council for all costs.
The potential impacts of the leak were reduced because of the quick response of Councils Rangers who worked with HAZMAT and Waterways over the Easter weekend. Environmental Protection Agency officers have also inspected the site.”
A Lane Cove Council spokesperson subsequently told ITC:
“Council staff engaged a contractor immediately to commence the clean-up over the Easter weekend.
The clean-up is continuing and is expected to be completed shortly, but Council will continue to monitor the site. We do not believe it’s spread to the harbour.”
Sewerage Leak St Leonards Car Park
The Lane Cove Council carpark in the JQZ development was recently opened. See below from Lane Cove Council’s website.
A roving reporter told ITC that a sewerage pipe leaked in the carpark. The leak was significant enough for Enviro to be called out on Easter Sunday to remove the sewerage from the carpark.
A Lane Cove Council spokesperson advised ITC.
- “The car park is known as St Leonards Central Car Park
- The incident occurred on Sunday, 9/4/23.
- Only the affected section was closed, not the whole car park.
- The clean-up was organised and paid for by the building’s Facilities Management Team.
- A Hygienist was engaged to inspect the car park to ensure that it has been properly cleaned and sanitised. This has been completed and the car park is fully operational as of 19 April.”
Coles Pipe Burst
On 22 March 2023, a new Coles opened at 88 by JQZ (also known as 88 Christie Street St Leonards).
After the opening date, a wastewater pipe overflowed near Coles, causing significant issues, which required Coles to close.
Sydney Water advised:
“Sydney Water crews responded to reports of a wastewater overflow along the Pacific Highway, St Leonards on Sunday, 9 April.
Network technicians attended the site and cleared the choke.
Initial investigations suggest a large amount of debris contributed to the blockage.”
The problem was significant enough to close the store until at least 28 April 2023 (see below).
A spokesperson for JQZ told ITC the following:
“JQZ was made aware of the reported issues at 88 Christie Street and immediately engaged to review the issues and arrange for the issues to be investigated and resolved.
We have worked diligently with all owners, including Lane Cove Council, to have the issues rectified in a timely manner that ensures public health and safety and environmental protection.
It should be noted that the Council Car Park did not close, but a small section of the Car Park that had a leak was investigated and is being rectified by the contractors under warranty, along with the other issues.
We place the health and safety of the community and the protection of the environment as top priorities.
JQZ continues to investigate the cause of the issues and to improve its processes to mitigate such issues arising again. JQZ is confident that the issues are either resolved or will be resolved shortly.
Regarding Coles, we are still assessing, but we, as the landlord, are working closely with Coles to ensure it’s all fixed before opening again.”
JQZ also told ITC they were not aware of the diesel spill incident until they were contacted by authorities.
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