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Agencies: Tyson Street asbestos ‘under control’

Each of the three agencies responsible for the safe monitoring and disposal of asbestos at Clarence Valley Council’s (CVC) proposed ‘super’ depot site at Tyson Street, South Grafton say the community has nothing to worry about. Issues surrounding the possibility of friable asbestos being on site, as a result of dumping, and other asbestos products that were a part of the former sewerage treatment plant (STP), have been raised by convenor of Clarence Forum Facebook site, John Hagger. Last week, ABC North Coast reported that “over the past three decades, as [asbestos cement] pipes have ruptured and been replaced, some ended up in landfill at the site of the former sewage treatment plant”. In an emailed response to the Independent’s enquiry, SafeWork NSW said an inspector visited the site on December 16. “The site was found to be locked and secure and is currently not deemed a workplace,” a SafeWork NSW spokesperson said. “As a precaution, SafeWork NSW directed Council to ensure the site remains secure and that no unauthorised individuals or workers have access to the site. “SafeWork NSW also advised Council to update their asbestos register to reflect that asbestos is present at the site. “SafeWork NSW is working with Council to develop safe systems of work for the remediation of the site set to start in early 2016.” The Environmental Protection Agency said in its emailed response that “Clarence Valley Council is the appropriate regulatory authority and is responsible for any asbestos issues on the site”. “The NSW EPA has not been advised of loose asbestos on the site by Clarence Valley Council or WorkSafe NSW,” an EPA spokesperson said. However, the EPA confirmed that the council had informed it that “asbestos is buried in an adjacent site to the former STP”. “This was included in the draft remedial action plan (RAP) prepared by Council in 2013 and provided to the EPA in November 2015,” the spokesperson said. “The planning process (under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act), requires that any soil contamination issues on a site are assessed and appropriately remediated for the proposed future use of the site. “The Environment Protection Licence for the former STP remains current, following the closure of the STP and will not be surrendered until the EPA is satisfied appropriate remediation of the site for the proposed future use has been completed.” The spokesperson said that CVC has been liaising with the EPA regarding the “asbestos contamination on the site beside the former STP” and that CVC had “confirmed that it is in the process of updating the draft RAP to take account of the most recent available information about contamination on the former STP site”. The EPA spokesperson said the EPA will then review CVC’s draft RAP “to ensure that it is appropriate to render the site fit for future use as a council depot and mitigate any potential risks to human health and the environment”. Clarence Valley Council’s general manager, Scott Greensill, said in an emailed response that the “council takes matters of community and workplace safety very seriously”. “All necessary actions in regards to possible asbestos at the proposed new depot site in Grafton are being managed in the appropriate and responsible manner,” he said. Residents who are concerned about loose asbestos on the site, can report it to the NSW EPA’s Environment Line on 131 555.