Protecting heritage and environment through remediation: Macdonaldtown Gasworks


Remediating the Macdonaldtown Gasworks involved more than removing and containing contaminants, as important as those aspects of the project were. We also rose to the challenge of achieving important heritage and biodiversity outcomes, all while engaging constructively with the local community.

This project saw the excavation, treatment and removal of contaminated material, the heritage value of the former gasworks recorded and preserved, and the biodiversity of the western portion of the site improved through revegetation with local native species.

When Railcorp was tasked with remediating the historic Macdonaldtown Gasworks site in the inner western Sydney suburb of Erskineville, they engaged Ventia to deliver this complex project.

The Macdonaldtown Gasworks Remediation Site housed a gasworks from 1892 to 1958 which produced gas for lighting railway carriages and the Eveleigh Railway Workshops. Processing coal and shale on-site left a legacy of contamination which remained when the gasworks was demolished. Over the decades, the waste contaminated the soil as well as groundwater.

The site is also home to the heritage listed Southern Gasholder, the last remaining structure of its type in NSW. We were responsible for protecting the historic gasholder during the works as well as restoring it to its former glory upon completion.

Strategic approach to a complex project


We considered the many possible approaches to best remediate the site, taking into account social, environmental and economic factors. Using an innovative three dimensional modelling process to manage the excavation process, we delivered a safe, secure and sustainable outcome.

To protect the surrounding environment and the local community, we constructed a 2,600m2 environmental control enclosure (ECE). The ECE was constructed of steel trusses covered in a durable, weatherproof fabric and enclosed the primary excavation area. Contaminant emissions were captured in the ECE for treatment through a Ventia-designed Emission Control System (ECS). This system passed air extracted from the enclosure through a series of particulate and chemical filter membranes.

Further detail is available at http://macdonaldtownremediation.com.au/

Meeting community expectations


With its inner city location and 27 residential properties on the site’s western boundary, community engagement was a crucial part of the project. A dedicated Ventia community and environment team consulted with community members. It was important to us to hear what the community had to say, and 100% of community enquiries were closed out within 48 hours.

Key statistics

  • 36,700 tonnes of hazardous, restricted, asbestos and general wastes were removed from the site.
  • More than 11,000 tonnes of hazardous material were successfully treated in accordance with the EPA-granted SIA conditions over the course of the project.
  • The reclassification of 10,000 tonnes of contaminated material to a classification that didn’t require cement stabilisation provided cost savings and a more sustainable outcome.
  • 164 piles up to 900mm in diameter with maximum pile depths of 15m were installed.
  • Zero on-site safety incidents / injuries throughout the remediation services.
  • Zero dust and odour exceedances at the site/residential boundary.
  • Winner, Colin Crisp Award for Engineering Heritage, Engineers Australia, 2017
  • Winner, Heritage Award for the Conservation of Objects, The National Trust NSW, 2017 
  • Winner, Sustainable Remediation Project Recognition Award, Sustainable Remediation Forum of Australia and New Zealand, 2016 
  • Winner, Clean Up Project Excellence Award, Australasian Land and Groundwater Association, 2016 
  • Winner, Engineering Excellence Award for Environment, Engineers Australia NSW, 2016
  • Highly Commended, Cultural Heritage Award, Keep NSW Beautiful Blue Star Sustainability Awards, 2016
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