Buck finally stops in bid to have toxic dump cleared

A NOWRA woman has taken a stack of bureaucratic hurdles in her stride as she doggedly pushes for an illegal asbestos dump in Nowra to be cleaned up.

It has been almost two months since authorities were notified of the piles of asbestos, dumped in bush at the end of McDonald Avenue, Nowra.

Two months and seven phone calls to various government agencies and still the material had not been removed but Chris Clarke was determined to see it done.

Mrs Clarke regularly walks her dog through the area and found the illegally dumped building material on February 5.

She phoned Shoalhaven City Council rangers and was told it was not a council issue.

She was instructed to contact the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

“The EPA took my details and have never contacted me over the matter,” Mrs Clarke said.

“However, I phoned them in mid-February and was told the EPA believed the rubbish had already been cleaned up.

“It hadn’t and I told them it had been stacked into a pile and marked with yellow paint.”

Mrs Clarke followed up the EPA with two more phone calls before being told by the authority on March 12 that council staff had stacked the material and it was a Crown Lands matter.

Determined to have the mess removed from the popular track, Mrs Clarke persisted and phoned Crown Lands’ Dubbo call centre.

She explained the situation again and the call centre passed her details to the Crown Lands office in Nowra.

Once in touch with the Nowra office she was told samples of the material had been sent for testing, and because it was a new procedure there was no way of knowing how long it would take.

“I was told the testing had to be done to determine who would be qualified to remove the material if it was asbestos,” Mrs Clarke said.

“I have a few concerns about how this has been handled. The first is the amount of time it has taken to remove what could be toxic waste.

“In that time someone has spread the asbestos around again.

“What about the waste of time and cost to taxpayers and ratepayers?

“What about the staff who piled the material up? Were they qualified? Did they wear protective clothing and masks?

“The area where it is dumped is popular with walkers, bike riders, and apparently rubbish dumpers. 

“This timeframe infers that the EPA and Crown Lands do not care much in relation to environmental and community health.”

Mrs Clarke said she was disappointed to see

procedure taking precedence over community welfare.

Shoalhaven City Council’s policy on illegally dumped rubbish is to first find the landowner and ask them to remove the waste.

Council’s Ranger Services manager Mike Jarman said council had inspected the site and marked it with yellow paint to let people know it had been inspected.

“We have identified the owner as Crown Lands and have asked them twice to clean it up,” he said.

“It was the landowner’s responsibility to remove illegally dumped waste.

“It’s a fairly hefty cost to council to do it.”

When questioned over the matter on Monday a spokesman from Crown Lands said the test results had come in that day confirming the material was asbestos.

He said a contractor would be appointed to remove the material but would not give a time frame. 

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