Bonded asbestos, low risk until it isn't


The NSW Chief Scientist & Engineer has today, 14 June, released a discussion paper on the management of asbestos in recovered fines and recovered materials for beneficial reuse in NSW. The discussion paper is intended to form the basis of the reforms needed in NSW to prevent the further spread of asbestos through recycled materials.

Greens MP and spokesperson for the environment Sue Higginson said “This document from the Chief Scientist and Engineer lays out just how serious the issue of asbestos contamination remains here in NSW,”

“It is made clear in absolute terms that the ‘low risk’ bonded asbestos that has been spread across playgrounds, schools and hospitals becomes more dangerous the longer it is exposed to weather and other mechanical processes,”

“The number and scale of discrepancies between what the Government has said and what the evidence has revealed is alarming. Investigations by the media have revealed that these contaminated products are in fact being sold as retail products from garden stores despite assurances from the Environment Protection Authority in February,”

“We also know that samples of products that have contained contaminants have been re-tested at testing facilities until clean results have been produced, despite assurances that we have a world class regulatory system,”

“It is deeply concerning that this discussion paper has been released more than 4 months after the first major discovery, and rather than us looking to fix the landscape supply industry, we are having yet another review,”

“We already know where the failure in this system is, and we know what we have to do to fix it, so why aren’t we?”

“We need a complete monitoring system for any potentially contaminated products to stop asbestos from moving between sites without being tracked, and we need to invest in a rigorous sample and test regime that is not vulnerable to profit driven abuse,” Ms Higginson said.