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Sydney beach at risk of toxic contamination
Sydney beach at risk of toxic contamination

FIRST ON 7: It's feared the health of swimmers at a popular Sydney beach is at risk from toxic sludge.

A 7News investigation has found waste from an old tip is being pumped close to the sand, just south of Maroubra.

The former wetland area on the Malabar headland used to be a dump in the 1980s, and it's feared the area is contaminated by a cocktail of chemicals.

Now it's being cleaned up by the Federal Government, with more than 230 tonnes of waste, asbestos and car bodies having been removed.

"We know that there was concern about deeply buried asbestos," Liberal Candidate for Kingsford-Smith Professor Michael Feneley said.

"Any of the asbestos that has been in powdered form or crushed can be washed into that."

But footage, filmed by worried locals and obtained by Seven News, has raised concerns that the potentially toxic sludge is being pumped towards the beach.

Professor Michael Feneley said a senior contractor at the site has admitted the mistake.

"There's no excuse at all to actually pump the water down very close to the beach, Professor Michael Feneley said.

"The only possible runoff for that water now is directly across the beach to where those children play."

7News asked the company overseeing the project to explain the video, and whether anyone was being put at risk by the decision to pump the sludge closer to the water.

But no one from Enviropacific was willing to speak.

Local MP and former environment minister, Peter Garrett, has hosed down concerns.

"The advice from the department is absolutely clear, there has been no discharge onto the beach, there has been no impact, and there will be no impact at all," Mr Garrett said.

The Opposition isn't convinced.

"We have leachates, we have toxic chemicals, we have heavy metals and we also have asbestos residues," Shadow Environment Minister Greg Hunt said.

"The water has to be captured, trucked and treated, that's what we do in the 21st century, not a 19th century approach of using our beaches as sewers."