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Crowd-funding pays to have depot dust tested

Clarence residents concerned about potential impacts of dust during construction of the new council depot in South Grafton have crowd-funded money to have samples tested for asbestos. The effort was co-ordinated by John Hagger, through the Facebook site The Clarence Forum. Mr Hagger said there had been numerous complaints from residents about dust collecting in their homes, allegedly from the construction site. Mr Hagger said Clarence Valley Council and the Environment Protection Agency had been unresponsive to calls to have dust tested, despite the discovery and subsequent removal of around 900 kilograms of buried asbestos-bonded concrete at the site. Clarence residents have raised $500 within four days according to Mr Hagger, and 10 samples are planned to be sent this week to Envirolab to be tested. “It’s an amazing response, but it’s a shame that residents have been forced to do this when its council’s responsibility,” he said. Mr Hagger admitted test results could be questioned as collection had not been supervised by authorities, but he believed if there was a positive test for asbestos it would be grounds for further action. Among those who collected dust from around their home to be tested was Jane O’Connor. Ms O’Connor said a large volume of dust had been collecting on surfaces in her home during construction. “You could go in every day and write your name in the dust – that’s how bad it is,” she said. Ms O’Connor said she also felt ignored by authorities when she expressed concerns.