Asbestos detected at two Queensland sites

Fraser Barton |

Investigators are probing two Queensland sites where testing returned positive results for asbestos.
Investigators are probing two Queensland sites where testing returned positive results for asbestos.

Authorities have closed a transfer station in central Queensland after asbestos was detected in a mulch stockpile.

The Department of Environment, Science and Innovation (DESI) are also investigating at NuGrow Rockhampton after samples returned positive asbestos results.

A mulch stockpile at the Livingstone Shire Council’s Emu Park transfer station had been picked up by a targeted inspection program by DESI and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.

Local council and authorities are working to establish where the contaminated mulch has been taken offsite.

They are also seeking to ensure the contaminated material is not distributed further.

“It is understood that the asbestos found was bonded asbestos and only a small number of residents have picked up mulch from the transfer station over recent weeks, suggesting there is a low risk to the community,” DESI said.

“DESI will review council’s asbestos handling processes and will inspect the site again to ensure they are operating in compliance with the necessary controls and procedures.”

Residents with concerns they may have received contaminated mulch from the transfer station should contact the local council.

Investigations are ongoing at the NuGrow Rockhampton site where testing returned positive results for asbestos.

Authorities said additional testing is underway and the samples are not part of a stockpile of finished compost material, or considered to be materials that have left the site.

Two friable asbestos fragments – about 1.5mm by 3mm – were discovered in a compost stockpile at the waste company’s Ipswich site west of Brisbane last month.

The potentially tainted soil from the Ipswich facility was taken to nine sites, including six schools.

A Greenbank dog park was also among the public sites being investigated.

Initially, there were concerns up to 25 sites were supplied with the potentially hazardous material.

It is understood the positive asbestos results at both NuGrow sites are not linked. 

It comes after NSW authorities completed a major tracing investigation found 75 asbestos-contaminated Sydney sites last week.

The investigation was sparked when fragments of bonded asbestos were detected in mulch at recently-opened inner city Rozelle Parklands in January.

The state’s Environment Protection Authority (EPA) had been working for eight weeks to determine the source of the tainted mulch and how it entered the supply chain.

About 6500 tonnes of mulch has been tracked, assessed and tested and nearly 1200 samples taken for analysis.