Sick of the stench

AFTER years of putting up with the stench and the seeming chemical bleaching of one of its fields, Cabramatta Rugby League Club has called on Sydney Water to shut down its wastewater pumping station.

Club representatives fear the station, which is close to one of its playing fields, poses a serious health threat to its 8000-plus membership.

Despite this, Sydney Water continues to back its decision to carry out renewal works at the site, saying relocation would be impracticable.

The facility, which was built at the back of Cabramatta Rugby League Club in the 1960s, contains chemicals including ferrous chloride and hydrochloric acid to reduce odours.

The club's liveable community manager and former Sydney Water area manager, Paul Fox, said the chemicals had overflowed and discharged onto an adjoining mod-playing field — leaving numerous bare patches where grass will not grow.

He said this was a safety hazard.

"The facility is located less than 13 metres from our mod-playing field," Mr Fox said.

"We've got four-year-old children playing on that field. We think it's pretty outrageous."

Mr Fox said the station also had an overflow pipe that entered into Cabramatta Creek.

He said that as the site didn't have a detention tank, sewage and chemicals also overflowed into the creek whenever there was heavy rain or an electrical failure.

"The overflow pipe is adjacent to the club's undercover car park, so when the overflows cease and the creek dries out, our patrons are left with the pungent stench of sewage coming from the creek," Mr Fox said.

"The odour has been so severe that young people training and playing at the grounds have had to leave, complaining they were ill."

Mr Fox said the club has called on Sydney Water to relocate the wastewater pumping station to a site where it didn't affect the community or the environment.

A Sydney Water spokesman said the club's request posed several difficulties.

"A relocation would be costly and the time taken to identify a suitable alternative site, purchase the land, acquire relevant approvals, construct the necessary infrastructure and decommission the existing pumping station would take years," he said.

"In the meantime, vital renewal work on the wastewater pumping station will continue, as planned, to ensure that the community has a reliable wastewater system and EPA licence conditions are met.

"This $4.8 million investment is expected to take six months to complete and should resolve the majority of the club's concerns."

Mr Fox raised his concerns at a forum attended by the Premier, Barry O'Farrell, and several cabinet ministers at Hunts Comfort Inn Casula two weeks ago.

Finance and Services Minister Andrew Constance said he was concerned Sydney Water was not meeting its EPA licence provisions and therefore would be looking into it.

"That's where the alarm bells start to ring for me," he said.

"I can't promise anything but I will go away and have a look at it because ultimately, anything that's involving this degree of required capital coupled with the fact that it has been an ongoing problem would suggest that there are some very, very serious concerns."

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