Asbestos clean up in the Clarence

Clarence Valley Council has prepared a report for the NSW Department of Health and Department of Environment about the use of road base containing asbestos that was used in the Ewingar area from September to December last year. The road base was sourced from Taylors Quarry, which is owned and run by Council and was used in a number of places including Bulldog Road, Plain Station Road and on the approach to several bridges.

The report suggests a number of actions including further testing of possible contaminated sites, advising the NSW Dust Diseases Board of staff and contractors believed to have worked in the area to ensure appropriate health monitoring is undertaken, sealing all areas identified as having asbestos contaminated gravel or removing it where appropriate, and rehabilitation work at Taylors Quarry.

But Ewingar resident Michael Mizzi, who initiated testing that confirmed the presence of asbestos in the road base, is unhappy that there is no provision for members of the public who may have been affected.

“Clarence Valley Council has been negligent and continues to be so. They have not called any community meetings to make residents and others aware of the risks now or in the future to their health and that of their families,” he said. “It’s not like asbestos is new in this area (referring to the Baryugil asbestos mine). If that happens again, what access is anyone going to have to compensation?

“There is no legislation covering the use of asbestos in this situation, it only covers the workplace,” Mr Mizzi said. “From what I can gather any exposure to asbestos is potentially dangerous to your health. The asbestos laden road base has been eroding into people’s dams via drains that drain into their properties as well as being washed into the Clarence river and its many tributaries for at least three months and in some cases longer. There is no mention in the report of Clarence Valley Council having done any testing in this situation where people’s water is affected.”

Clarence Valley Council general manager Stuart McPherson said they were still waiting for advice from the North Coast Area Health Service about the most appropriate response for the general community.

“We want the best possible advice about what, if anything, to do to mitigate the risk to community members. If they suggest doing something further in relation to personal health checks we will be strongly influenced to follow that guideline,” he said.


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