PROGRESS ON PAUSE: Farming and construction practices from half a century ago may affect the speed of development at Maryvale.
PROGRESS ON PAUSE: Farming and construction practices from half a century ago may affect the speed of development at Maryvale. Steven J Kasper

How a rumour poisoned Maryvale's progress

ARSENIC has poisoned Maryvale's progress by landing the railway reserve on the environmental management register.

During the Southern Downs Regional Council meeting at the town hall, CEO David Keenan told residents that while the council wished to begin their urban design projects, his first priority was "getting Maryvale off the contaminated land register”.

The process, according to Maryvale Progress Association vice-president Dennis Wood, is likely to take years and many thousands of dollars.

"The biggest hurdle is the cost of having the soil tested,” he said.

A comment made in jest many years ago, may have polluted the land's chance at revival, according to Mr Wood.

"I heard that an offhand comment was made, someone took it to heart and unfortunately the council have an obligation to follow it up,” he said.

Mr Wood thoroughly researched the history of the area in question.

"There are two potential sources of contamination,” he said. "The first one came from a comment about a cattle dip on the land. "The other is from an environmental registry that suggests railway sleepers, dipped in arsenic, could have been stored on site.”

Both these claims could be disputed, Mr Wood said.

"I don't believe those sleepers would have been stored in Maryvale because historical records of building the rail line across Mt Edwards show the sleepers they used were very expensive and carted in from somewhere else. After that, records show they identified future sleepers from Cunningham's Gap, which they were able to cut locally,” he said.

It is also unlikely that a cattle dip, where farmers used arsenic to control ticks until 1955, existed on the site.

"When you look up other cattle dips around the state there are always a lot of artefacts, like old concrete ramps, that signify where they were located,” Mr Wood said.

"There is no such evidence at Maryvale. And long-term families say they never saw one.”



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