Asbestos Discoveries in NSW: Here’s Everything We Know about the Situation at Hand

Asbestos Discoveries in NSW: Here’s Everything We Know about the Situation at Hand

If you’ve been keeping across the news this month, you’ll likely be aware that there have been reports of asbestos being found in the mulch at a number of NSW locations. The discovery has led to a widespread investigation into how the dangerous substance made its way into areas and has also resulted in the cancellation of the upcoming festival Fair Day at Victoria Park, Sydney.

If you’re wondering what all this means, as well as what the next steps are in this discovery, we’ve pulled together everything we currently know on this issue for you below.

Asbestos discoveries NSW: What has happened?

As the ABC has reported, the beginnings of this discovery started with a child accidentally bringing “a piece of bonded asbestos home” from a park about a month back. This event led to an investigation by NSW’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA), which has confirmed the material has been discovered in ‘at least’ 22 other sites.

On February 5, NSW EPA Chief Executive Officer, Tony Chappel, shared a statement confirming that the EPA was looking into many locations and potential sources for the contamination.

“Our officers have been out conducting inspections and sampling at sites across Sydney, which include the Rozelle Parklands, St Peters Interchange, Sydenham to Bankstown Rail corridor, Prospect Highway, Regatta Park, the mulch supplier and a landscaper premises,” Chappel said.

At the time of this statement’s release, the EPA confirmed that one supplier had been connected to the asbestos contamination. This supplier was directed to stop selling its product and notify customers of the discovery.

What is bonded asbestos?

Bonded or non-friable asbestos is described as a hardened product, rather than a crumbled, or powdered substance (friable). The EPA defines non-friable asbestos this way: “When dry, it cannot be crumbled, pulverised or reduced to a powder by hand pressure. It is mixed with cement or other bonding materials “.

NSW Health states that there is “There is no known safe level of asbestos exposure.” However, it does share that if asbestos is in good condition (i.e. stable, intact, non-friable) it is generally low risk. It is when fragments of the asbestos break away and can be inhaled that there is more cause for concern.

In short, advice for this substance is always to take extra care and seek out a professional service to assess the situation at hand. Never disturb something you suspect may contain asbestos yourself.

The ABC has reported that initially, all positive asbestos findings were non-friable; however, friable asbestos (a high-risk form of the material) was discovered in the mulch at Harmony Park in Surry Hills.

Where has asbestos been found in Sydney?

Per reporting from the ABC, the following locations have been listed as having asbestos discovered in the mulch. Not all 22 locations are public, but these sites have been named:

  • Harmony Park in Surry Hills
  • Victoria Park at Broadway
  • Belmore Park near Central Station
  • Liverpool West Public School
  • Campbelltown Hospital
  • Rozelle Parklands
  • Regatta Park, Emu Plains
  • Prospect Highway, Blacktown
  • Parramatta light rail project, Telopea
  • Marrickville rail corridor
  • Punchbowl rail corridor
  • Wiley Park rail corridor
  • Belmore rail corridor
  • Industrie Warehouse Bankstown
  • Nowra Bridge upgrade

What else do I need to know?

It has been 20 years since Australia banned the use, manufacture or sale of asbestos – but it can still be found in homes built before 1990.

The material is incredibly dangerous and poses a major health risk if disturbed, so its presence should always be treated as serious.

If you are after more information, you can contact the EPA Environment Line at [email protected] or 131 555.

We have reached out to the EPA for comment regarding the latest findings in this situation and will update this piece with any additional statements shared.

Lead Image Credit: Roni Bintang/Getty Images/iStock

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