Asbestos mulch emerges
NSW authorities are battling asbestos contamination in parks and schools.
Asbestos contamination has been detected in mulch used across various locations in Sydney.
The discovery has sparked widespread concern and prompted immediate action from local councils, the New South Wales Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), and the Department of Education.
The City of Sydney has confirmed the presence of asbestos in mulch at three central parks, with further testing underway in other areas.
Friable asbestos, a form of the mineral that can easily be reduced to powder, posing a high inhalation risk, was identified in Surry Hills' Harmony Park.
This type of asbestos is particularly concerning due to its propensity to release fibres into the air, which can lead to serious health conditions such as asbestosis, lung cancer, and mesothelioma.
Premier Chris Minns says the discovery “that particular kind of asbestos, not the bonded asbestos … is deeply worrying”.
Bonded asbestos, considered to have a low-to-negligible risk, was also found at Victoria Park and Belmore Park.
The affected areas have reportedly been fenced-off.
The City of Sydney has reassured the public that the contaminated mulch was used only in garden beds and under trees, not in playgrounds, and that they will continue to work closely with the EPA.
The issue extends beyond parks, with Liverpool West Public School and Campbelltown Hospital also facing asbestos contamination in their mulch.
More than 100 sites across Sydney have reportedly been tested, with at least 13 returning positive results for bonded asbestos.
The Department of Education has executed its asbestos protocol. Liverpool West Public School has shifted to remote learning to allow for the removal of the contaminated mulch.
The Greenlife Resource Recovery Facility (GRRF), implicated in the supply of some of the contaminated mulch, has distanced itself from responsibility post-delivery, saying; “It is unreasonable to hold GRRF responsible for how its products are used once delivered to contractors on a construction site”.