by BRENDAN FOSTER
A LARGE Moreton Bay Fig next to Fremantle primary school is dying after being poisoned by heavy metals.
Fremantle council’s technical services director Peter Pikor says there’s no threat to students from the contamination despite soil samples finding elevated lead levels nearby.
Environmental consultants GHD took 149 samples, with three showing lead levels slightly above DEC guidelines and another which was “particularly high”. Mr Pikor says that sample is undergoing further analysis.
The tree is on an old landfill site on the corner of Stevens and Brennan streets (which was once a cemetery). It will be mulched and sent to a hazardous waste dump.
The site has been reported as “suspected contaminated” to the DEC, which will conduct its own investigation.
Mr Pikor said the council met with representatives from the DEC and the education department in December.
Although the environment watchdog felt there was no health risk, Mr Pikor says the council is taking a “conservative approach” and will conduct further investigations.
“It goes without saying that the city places the utmost importance on public health and safety, so we made sure that a comprehensive analysis was completed and that the relevant stakeholders were notified immediately,” Mr Pikor said.
“Based on the fact that only this tree seems to be affected, the logical conclusion is that the tree has absorbed contaminants from an underground… ‘hotspot’, possibly remnants from landfill,” Mr Pikor said.