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Clarence Valley Council’s response to asbestos allegations

The Independent sent a long list of questions to Clarence Valley Council following The Clarence Forum’s allegations that there is asbestos contamination at the proposed ‘super’ depot site at Tyson Street, South Grafton. However, the general manager Scott Greensill, who described the forum’s convenor John Hagger’s allegations as “irresponsible scaremongering”, chose to answer the questions with the following statement: “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. “During the course of the redevelopment project Council is legally obliged to appropriately deal with any waste related matters, including asbestos, and these are encompassed in a site remediation action plan. “Council has been in discussion with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and SafeWork NSW who are both in concurrence with council’s current management and proposed actions. “Council is aware that anonymous complaints were made to the EPA and SafeWork NSW late last year and these have been adequately attended to. “Recurrent attempts of raising this matter appear to be emanating from one person, despite Council clearly demonstrating on numerous occasions to relevant authorities that the required protections and plans are in place. “The ongoing raising of this issue is considered to be nothing more that irresponsible scaremongering.” The questions posed by the Independent are below: • SafeWork NSW has advised the Independent that it has “directed Council to ensure the site remains secure and that no unauthorised individuals or workers have access to the site” and that it has “also advised Council to update their asbestos register to reflect that asbestos is present at the site”. Has this occurred? • How can I access the council’s asbestos register? • SafeWork NSW has advised the Independent that it “is working with Council to develop safe systems of work for the remediation of the site set to start in early 2016”. How and when do you envisage that this will take place? • If asbestos was known to be onsite (as reported by the ABC), why was this information omitted from the State Environment Planning Policy checklist – marked as not relevant – regarding Table 55 in the Managing Land Contamination Planning Guidelines, SEPP 55–Remediation of Land, when the planning proposal was exhibited? • The planning proposal comment, however, says that “Council is in any case stepping through a ‘remediation action plan’ (RAP) process in respect of the contamination that has been detected at the site. If it’s not Table 55 contamination (eg asbestos); what are the specific contaminants referred to in the RAP? • The EPA has publically stated that “asbestos on the site would require remediation before the land is developed”. However, director Troy Anderson stated in the ABC report that, “Council has a remediation action plan for the entire site which has identified a certain area which may have asbestos materials and we’ll be dealing with that as we move through construction.” Your statement is contrary to what was stated by the EPA [remediation before the land is developed]. What is the council doing regarding this apparent conflict? • Will the site be remediated before any construction commences? • The council’s asbestos policy states: “It is illegal to dispose of asbestos waste in domestic waste bins or to recycle, reuse, BURY or ILLEGALLY DUMP [the Independent’s emphasis] asbestos waste.” The council appears to have breached this policy, what is your response to that? • Is the asbestos onsite regarded as friable or non-friable? • What are the products onsite that contain asbestos? • It has been alleged that some of the material dumped at the site has subsequently been removed and used elsewhere – has this occurred? • If so, does CVC have a record of where this material has been used? • It has been alleged that local residents may have removed material from the site, which may be contaminated by asbestos – what is CVC doing to manage this? • What action does the council plan to take to advise and/or protect its employees regarding the asbestos, in accordance with the council’s asbestos policy?