Asbestos found in Clarence roads

The NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change and Water (DECCW) have confirmed the presence of asbestos in a sample of road base taken from Plains Station Road in Ewingar.

The sample was taken by Ewingar resident Michael Mizzi after his friend, geology student Jeff Finlay, told him that some of the rock used in road base in the area contained asbestos.

“I started looking into it on the internet and found that there were two types of asbestos and both of them were considered to be carcinogenic,” Mr Mizzi said.

He collected three random samples from along Plains Station Road and took one to Page MP Janelle Saffin’s office and one to Southern Cross University for testing. It was sent to a laboratory in Sydney for analysis and came back positive for chrysotile asbestos.

DECCW were called and further testing was done confirming the presence of the material. In an email to Mr Mizzi, Jon Keats from DECCW said: “We recently undertook an inspection of Plains Station Road with Council officers and collected samples for analysis. The results confirmed the presence of chrysotile asbestos in a number of samples, although no respirable fibres were detected. Council met yesterday afternoon with DECCW to discuss its proposed response to this issue. Council advised that it would also be liaising with and seeking advice from the Workcover Authority and NSW Health. DECCW will be monitoring Council’s response to this issue.”

Mr Mizzi believes Council should call a public meeting and alert residents as to what the dangers are.

Clarence Valley Council general manager Stuart McPherson said they were doing more tests to determine exactly where the material was.

“We believe the vast majority of the material is at a couple of bridge projects and it has also been detected on some heavy patching sites on Plains Station Road and Bulldog Road,” he said. “We are negotiating with state agencies that have regulatory powers in this area, particularly the EPA, and are hoping to have resolutions about a process that we will undertake to resolve the issues shortly.”

Mr McPherson said Council would be sealing the roads with bitumen where the patching work had been done in the short term.

“We will have more permanent rectification measures that we’ll undertake following negotiations with the ETA,” he said.

Mr McPherson said the material had come from a Council quarry at Ewingar that has been suspended from operation until further testing is done to determine whether they can continue to use it.

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