Crown Lands, clean this up

FOUR months after authorities were notified of a large asbestos dump on the edge of residential Nowra, the toxic material remains in place.

DANGER ZONE: Asbestos inspector and auditor Neil Wallace from Asbestos Reporting South Coast was shocked to discover government authorities had left an illegal asbestos dump in a public area for almost four months.

DANGER ZONE: Asbestos inspector and auditor Neil Wallace from Asbestos Reporting South Coast was shocked to discover government authorities had left an illegal asbestos dump in a public area for almost four months.

Crown Lands is responsible for cleaning up the site.

In March the agency confirmed it would appoint a contractor to remove the material. 

Nowra resident Chris Clarke reported the asbestos dump, located on a popular bush track at the end of McDonald Avenue, to Shoalhaven City Council in February.

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

Council rangers identified the owner as Crown Lands and asked it numerous times to clean it up.

However, the material remains in place and according to Mrs Clarke has been moved about several times over the past few months.

She raised concerns about asbestos fibres being exposed to people who have been spreading the material around.

Asbestos inspector and auditor Neil Wallace from Asbestos Reporting South Coast is called on by the National Parks and Wildlife Service to test material at illegal dumping sites on the service’s land.

He was shocked to learn the material had been left exposed for months despite council, the EPA and Crown Lands knowing about it.

On seeing the illegal dump Mr Wallace said it would probably only cost a few hundred dollars to remove it from the public area.

“There is a big risk with this because it is in an area used by the public. If it is being broken up it would create airborne fibres,” he said.

“I would encourage people to stay away from this area until the asbestos has been removed.

“I could get people to clean this up and hold onto it until Crown Lands collects it, or pays to have it disposed of.”

He was surprised council had not done that already considering it had sent staff to pile the material up earlier in the year.

Mr Wallace thought people would be shocked at how often asbestos was dumped in bush.

“People who dump this stuff think they’re being smart but they are exposing themselves to the asbestos,” he said.

Mr Wallace said people often didn’t understand the implications of not meeting strict requirements when working on a property that has asbestos.

“It’s important for people renovating old houses to understand the importance of not only disposing of asbestos safely but having the correct paperwork to go with it,” he said.

“If you are getting asbestos taken away you must have a receipt for tipping, notification to WorkCover and if you are building in place of old asbestos you must also have a clearance certificate.”

The South Coast Register contacted Crown Lands about its lack of action on the clean-up.

“Crown Lands has engaged a qualified contractor to safely remove the material and the work is programmed by the contractor for later next week,” a spokesman said.

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