Clarence Valley Council (CVC) will hold a public meeting at its Grafton chambers at 5.30pm on December 1, to “keep members of the public fully informed about … how it is dealing with contaminants found” at the new depot site at Tyson Street, South Grafton.
Representatives from contractors working at the site and government agencies will attend the meeting.
The council’s works and civil director, Troy Anderson, said in a media release that CVC was “keen to allay any concerns the community might have about how asbestos and other contaminants found at the site were being handled”.
“It’s fair to say we have found more there than any of our independent pre-work reports indicated,” he said.
“But now it has been uncovered, we will deal with it and that will be done according to all relevant safety guidelines.
“During excavation of the site about 900kg of bonded asbestos has been found.
“It is a substantial amount, but to put it into perspective that is about 0.015 per cent of the material on site and will all be dealt with in a safe and controlled manner.”
Councillors made the decision to hold the public meeting at the November 15 council meeting.
Councillor Richie Williamson put a five-point motion and said that councillors had been “updated earlier this afternoon” about the asbestos contamination.
“I speak for my colleagues; we have our heads around the issue,” he said. “The community will be brought up to speed, as we have this afternoon.”
There was no further discussion about the matter, with the resolution receiving unanimous support from the valley’s nine councillors.
Councillors gave the general manager “delegated authority to continue … remediation of the site in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Protection Authority, including the treatment and removal of historic uncontrolled fill and waste upon the site”.
Progress and associated costs, which will be funded from the sewer fund, will be reported to councillors at the monthly ordinary meetings.
Mr Anderson said that “contractors have installed air monitoring stations around the boundary of the site [and that] there has been increased watering” of the site. “Some site staff carry individual air monitoring devices.”
Mr Anderson said that, “as a precautionary measure, stockpiles on site have been treated with a polymer spray to provide an increased level of safety”.
“The contractors have also kept the neighbouring South Grafton High School and residents informed of developments,” he said.
He noted that remediation of the former sewerage treatment plant “was required regardless of whether a depot was going to be built”.
“We have to fully decommission that sewer treatment plant and that involves cleaning up the site,” he said.
The education department has advised the Independent that South Grafton High School representatives met with the contractors on August 17, “about risk assessment of the project before work started, and, on August 19, [were] aware of a report confirming the presence of bonded asbestos”.
“Between mid-August and September 1, the school confirmed through the [Education] Department’s Work, Health and Safety Directorate that the Council and contractors were taking the appropriate precautions,” the department’s response stated.
“The contractors have advised the school of noise mitigation and air quality monitoring measures, advice which has been promptly forwarded by the school to the school community.”