Aug 092012

Back in 2011 broken pieces of sheet material on the surface of the Timber Yard site were visible. To the casual observer the pieces look like asbestos sheet fragments, which would be logical considering the site legally sold asbestos products for many years and the large central building demolished in 2006 had asbestos roofing. Since the demolition the surface of the site has been graded over but the sheet material detritus became exposed on the surface amongst the gravel, dirt and weeds.

These below images were forwarded to an asbestos assessor and based on these images and a description of the site, the assessor assumed many of the pieces are most likely asbestos.

If this is asbestos, it’s of concern because the site is regularly disturbed by a mowing contractor, and any potentially hazardeous materials further broken up and scattered. And as most people know the site abuts the public park Armstrong Reserve and is only meters away from the children’s playground and cricket nets. Children have also bee observed on the site.

Most likely as a result of the mowing of the site, most of the previously visible potential asbestos detritus is no longer observable. It’s likely the pieces are now broken into fine particles and scattered throughout the site and/or surrounding environment.

Council, EPA, and WorkSafe were all contacted about the matter, with the outcome of responsibility for investigating the matter being with WorkSafe Victoria. WorkSafe Victoria were asked if the matter had been investigated, or if there is/was asbestos on site and if it poses any danger to workers or community; they would not provide any information as they were protecting the confidentiality of the employer/land owner. An Fredom Of Information request could be lodged if information on the matter were sought by individuals or the community.

Below are images of the broken material that were observable in 2011 after a year of regular mowing of the site. Another year later this detritus is gone. But no doubt more is graded under the surface of this site.

So with the evidence scattered, no information from the responsible authourity, should the community be worried? If it was asbestos, how are we to know now, have our children been put at risk? Is there more under the surface and will this be correctly managed when the site disturbed in the future?

 Posted by at 6:24 pm

  2 Responses to “Asbestos on Timber Yard site? Is it being correctly managed?”

  1. Hi Craig,

    The stuff on the surface is minimal and could represent all that is on the site. Or it could be represent what lies beneath the graded surface.

    Advice and government documentation is pretty clear that ‘no amount of asbestos is considered safe’ and all needs to be responsibly disposed of.

    As for the environmental wells on the site, we are not sure. There is reported to be contamination on the site that will require remediation before any building commences. It is thought to be related to the previous use of the site to process bitumen.

  2. The items noted in the pictures do appear to be asbestos. However at this level it is generally not seen as the major risk it was a few years ago.
    It could probably be sorted with an “emu bob” type clean up in an hour, and you’d need to talk to a hygenist, but I doubt they’d even be required to have air monitoring in place or wear protective clothing while doing it.

    However the contractor who demolished the previous structures should have provided a clearance certificate for the job and I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to inspect it given your concerns.
    Anyway I’ve always had a much greater interest as to why they have environental wells set up on the site. If this hasn’t been discussed at any of your meetings then I think its a good question to ask.

    Regarding worksafe, the have just become another beloated goverment department and are generally completely useless.
    Talk to the media and highlight the kids playground.

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