Peter Attwill has been fighting for justice over contamination of his Coramba property.
Peter Attwill has been fighting for justice over contamination of his Coramba property.

Fuel-leak case settled

SHALLOW victory was the term chosen by Peter Attwill to describe the end of his four-year legal fight over the contamination of his Coramba property by unleaded petrol leaking from the town’s service station.

Following a drawn-outSupreme Court process, Peter and Belinda Attwill reached an out-of-court settlement with the owners of the Coramba Service Station on February 28 which saw the Attwill’s costs covered.

Mr Attwill said they had dropped proceedings against Coffs Harbour City Council, which was also a defendant in the case.

The council was drawn into the case because the unleaded petrol crossed under land owned by the council to reach the Attwill’s property.

Mr Attwill said he was still in a position where he could not sell or finance his home.

He said his property still carried a 149 certificate which showed the land as a contaminated site with a significant risk of harm.

“It’s a beautiful spot but you still get the smell when the river level drops,” he said.

In 2002, Mr Attwill discovered what turned out to be unleaded petrol seeping from a bank near the bottom of his property, on the bank of the Orara River at Coramba.

He reported the strong-smelling leak to Coffs Harbour City Council, sparking a chain of events which has enmeshed the Attwill family in years of meetings, research, studies, investigations, negotiations and endless reams of correspondence.

The contamination is understood to be the result of unleaded petrol that leaked from an underground fuel tank at the service station in Gale Street.

The leaking tank and most of the contaminated soil at the service station were removed in 2002.

The ongoing source of contamination is the residual petrol, some of which is in a dissolved state in groundwater at the bedrock level.



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