What is asbestos?

Asbestos is a natural mineral that was used in many building products in Australia from the 1940s to the 1980s. Products containing asbestos were phased out during the 1980s and a national ban on asbestos, its importation and all products containing asbestos came into effect at the end of 2003.

Asbestos fibres can pose a risk to health if they are airborne, as inhalation is the main way that asbestos enters the body.

Asbestos is common in homes and structures built before 1990 and was commonly used in:

  • cement sheeting (fibro)
  • drainage and flue pipes
  • roofing, guttering and flexible building boards 
  • brakes, clutches and gaskets.

For more information, please visit the Asbestos in NSW website.

Managing asbestos  in Penrith

Penrith City Council treats the discovery of asbestos seriously and has strict procedures in place to protect the safety of residents, the community and our staff. A comprehensive Asbestos Management Framework and Asbestos Policy guide Council’s management of asbestos in Penrith.

What is Council's role?

Council provides several different services in relation to advice, regulation, remediation and management of asbestos, within the City. These services include:

  • assessment and regulation of building and demolition work involving asbestos on private land
  • advice and assessments regarding land contamination matters and remediation proposals on private land
  • investigation and regulation of illegally dumped Asbestos Containing Material on public and private land
  • providing general asbestos information and awareness to the public
  • environmental investigations, clean-up and/or remediation of asbestos contamination on public land (where other authorities such as the RMS are not responsible).

All of Council’s asbestos related matters are managed in-line with SafeWork NSW and NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) requirements. This includes the use of appropriately trained staff, licenced asbestos removal contractors and licenced asbestos assessors.

Asbestos at your property

If your home was built before 1990, it’s likely to contain asbestos. If your house is in good condition and you’re not planning on renovating, then you may not need to do anything. Asbestos materials that are in good condition are unlikely to release asbestos fibres if left undisturbed.

If your home is damaged or you are thinking about renovating it is important for homeowners and tradespeople to be aware of how to safely manage asbestos in and around the home. For information on what to look for and how to safely manage asbestos in the home visit Asbestos Awareness website.

In most cases, a licensed asbestos professional is the best person to identify, remove and dispose of asbestos safely. You can find a list of licensed asbestos assessors on the Safe Work NSW website.

Please note that SafeWork NSW is responsible for regulating contractors and workers engaged to remove asbestos materials on private properties, and asbestos in a workplace. If you are concerned about how asbestos is being removed or handled by a business or removalist, SafeWork can be contacted on 13 10 50.

Disposing of household asbestos

Council recommends residents use a licensed asbestos professional to identify, remove and dispose of household asbestos safely. You can find a list of licensed asbestos assessors on the Safe Work NSW website.

Household asbestos can only be disposed of at a landfill that’s licensed to accept it. Contact your nearest landfill site to confirm they accept asbestos and ask about disposal processes. To find nearby facilities that accept household asbestos, visit the EPA website.

Illegal dumping of asbestos

Illegal dumping of asbestos can damage the environment and threaten human health, it can also lead to serious regulatory actions including fines and imprisonment. You can report illegal dumping at any time by visiting and providing details on the location and type of waste dumped.

Asbestos on public land/Council facilities

A large portion of Council’s asbestos related work in the community is the investigation and remediation of asbestos contamination on public land.

What happens when asbestos is found?

Council’s Divisional Assurance Team follows strict procedures which are in line with Council’s stringent Asbestos Management Framework, and regulations set by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and SafeWork NSW.

These procedures include (but are not limited to) removing asbestos risks, implementing suitable controls, conducting air monitoring, undertaking clearance inspections (in accordance with SafeWork NSW Code of Practice) and conducting detailed environmental investigations where more complex situations arise.

As part of this process, Council engages licensed asbestos contractors, licensed asbestos assessors, consultants, and NSW Hazmat units to ensure that all SafeWork NSW and EPA requirements are met.

How to report suspected asbestos

Council welcomes the assistance of our community to help Council minimise potential asbestos hazards on public land and in community facilities. Please notify Council if you suspect asbestos containing material on public land and in community facilities (not private property). You can notify us in several ways:

  • 4732 7777

Investigations and remediations

The following information relates to specific sites that are subject to current environmental investigations and remediation projects underway in the city. To find out more about the process for investigations and remediation, please read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). For further information on current environmental investigations and remediation projects in our City, contact Council’s Divisional Assurance Team on 4732 8647.

The current asbestos in mulch situation across Sydney is concerning for everyone. In most cases, the asbestos found in the mulch is non-friable (bonded). This means that the asbestos is bonded to other material such as concrete or other hard bonding materials, and fibres are unlikely to be released into the air unless the product is damaged or is highly degraded.

NSW Health have outlined non-friable asbestos found in mulch is a low risk to community and users of venues impacted by the contaminated mulch.

What is the State Government doing to manage the current situation?

The EPA is the regulatory authority for asbestos waste and asbestos in mulch in NSW. In addition, the EPA is also responsible for overseeing the mulch supply chain in NSW and ensuring that waste and Recycling facilities comply with all regulatory requirements.

The EPA has outlined that it is a 'complex investigation involving multiple lines of enquiry, including the mulch supply chain and the potential presence of legacy asbestos at these sites''.

The NSW Government have announced an Asbestos Taskforce to support the NSW EPA's investigation into asbestos in mulch.

The EPA will provide daily updates on impacted sites via the EPA website.

Penrith City Council's investigations into asbestos in mulch

Like other Council’s, schools and businesses in Sydney, Penrith City Council has been impacted by the current asbestos in mulch situation. Council takes every asbestos incident seriously. The safety of residents, the community and staff are our number one priority.

In January 2024, once it became known that several Transport for NSW sites were impacted by asbestos in mulch, Council conducted a proactive review into the suppliers of mulch to Council sites and projects over the past 18 months. This was to determine if mulch had been supplied by the same company who supplied contaminated mulch to the Transport for NSW sites. This review highlighted only one project site had received mulch from that supplier - Regatta Park in Emu Plains. Further information on that situation can be found below.

Council produces much of its own mulch and a review of that process has shown that there is no risk of asbestos contamination from our own mulch. In relation to contractor supplied mulch, Council's initial review only identified one site that was supplied by the same company as the Transport for NSW sites. However, to ensure that our community is safe, we have been proactively reviewing all project sites that received mulch from contractors over the past 18 months. This review will include engaging with an independent consultant to assess these areas and conduct sampling.

If you require additional information, please do not hesitate to Council's Divisional Assurance Team on 4732 7777.

Regatta Park, Emu Plains

Background Information

On Thursday 25 January, Council found the principal landscape and civil construction contractor for Regatta Park (Emu Plains) had used mulch from the same company who supplied contaminated mulch to the Transport for NSW sites, in two locations in the park – a closed area still under construction; the other a recently opened section of the river walk.

Council immediately fenced off the area and established a pedestrian detour via the new section of River Road around the area, rejoining the walk on the southern end of Regatta Park.

Council officers worked with the principal contractor for Regatta Park on the actions required for identifying, testing and removing the mulch which are in line with Council’s stringent Asbestos Management Framework, and regulations set by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and SafeWork NSW.

This testing and assessment found that a small amount of bonded (non-friable) asbestos was found in a small section of the fenced off area within the construction site near the oval. This area is still under construction and remains closed to the public. This area will require further remediation action by the contractor and will remain closed to the public. Air monitoring is continuing to ensure the safety of the community and workers on site.

Council has received the required sampling results and clearance from the independent asbestos assessor which outlines that the mulch near the pathway is not contaminated. In addition, the EPA outlined they have no concerns with that area. The area has now been reopened to the public.

Although the mulch material in the pathway area is safe for the community and does not contain asbestos, Council has found that the quality of the mulch in this area is poor and contains foreign material such as fragments of chipboard and engineered wood. As such, the mulch will be removed and replaced with clean natural mulch material.

Current Status

Council and the contractor are now awaiting approval from the EPA to remove the mulch from the fenced off area within the construction site near the oval. Council has written to the EPA requesting approval to remove the asbestos material as soon as possible.

The removal will be undertaken by a SafeWork NSW licensed asbestos removal contractor and overseen by an Independent Licensed Asbestos Assessor.

Signage will be provided along the River Walk and appropriate notification will be provided to nearby residents prior to removal works being undertaken.

Status: Completed

17 January 2024

On Wednesday 17 January 2024, Council was notified of potential asbestos containing material located in the park between Trinity Drive and Carlyle Crescent, Cambridge Gardens. Once notified, Council engaged an independent SafeWork Licensed Asbestos Assessor to attend the site and undertake an assessment. In turn, a SafeWork licensed asbestos removalist was engaged to undertake an assessment of the site and remove the potential asbestos material.

Based on the results of the assessment, the park site is required to will be temporarily fenced off to the public. As part of this, we ask all property owners and/or tenants that back onto the park impacted area not to access this fenced off area via their backyards. The fragments of material were not found near the play area and were in locations that present a low risk to park users and the surrounding residents.

Council will now work with the relevant contractors, including a SafeWork licensed asbestos removalist and an independent SafeWork Licensed Asbestos Assessor to remove material from the affected areas. This will be completed in line with all SafeWork NSW's requirements, this will include the presence of air monitoring to ensure there is no risk to the community. Once the material has been removed, a Clearance Certificate will be issued by the independent SafeWork Licensed Asbestos Assessor, which will outline the site is safe for use by the community.

More information including Frequently Asked Questions can be found on Council’s website:

Should you have any questions, please contact Council's Divisional Assurance Team on 4732 7777.

23 January 2024 Update

The inspection and asbestos identification assessment of Trinity Drive Reserve is now approximately 70% complete with the northern area to be finalised. Although it was hoped to have the park open as soon as possible, we are taking the required time to ensure that all areas of the Reserve have been adequately assessed. In addition to the visual inspection and assessment, the independent asbestos assessor is also undertaking soil testing as part of this process. This has been organised to be undertaken in the next few days.

Once the inspection and asbestos identification assessment of the Reserve has been completed, the independent asbestos assessor will need to complete a clearance for the site before it can be reopened to the public. It is currently anticipated that this should be completed in the next 10-12 days (weather permitting and pending no further issues being found on site).

We understand that the community has concerns with the current situation and potential health impacts. To assist with determining if there are any risks to the community, air monitoring was undertaken by a licensed asbestos assessor on the 19 January 2024. The assessor has advised that the air monitoring outlines that there are no airborne risks to the community. Additional air monitoring will be undertaken while the site is being assessed.

In addition, there has been some concerns raised regarding the source of the material and whether it was part of the mulch placed on site. We understand the communities' concerns, especially considering what is occurring at the Rozelle site near Sydney. All evidence collected on site to date indicates that the material is legacy asbestos from historic land uses on the site and not from the mulch. The evidence to date includes:
• The bulk of the material found on the site was found in areas without mulch.
• There were only a few fragments found in mulch and many of those fragments were large and of a nature that shows that it is unlikely to have come through a mulching process.
• The mulch on the site has been in place for 12 months, with the last 'top up' occurring in August 2023. No reports of asbestos had been noted until recently.
Notwithstanding this and as outlined above, further soil and mulch testing will be conducted by the independent asbestos assessor to confirm this. This soil testing will be conducted in accordance with NSW Environment Protection Authority requirements.

There have also been concerns raised about the nearby childcare centres. Council is confident that the Childcare Centres were not impacted by the issues found at Trinity Drive Reserve and continue to be safe for the children and workers. As part of Council's standard protocols, the childcare play areas are inspected every morning by staff to ensure they are safe. Childcare staff are trained in asbestos awareness and no asbestos has been found on these sites as part of this situation.

As soon as permitted by the asbestos assessor, Council's City Presentation Department will undertake site maintenance, including mowing.

25 January 2024 Update

The visual walk over component of the inspection and asbestos identification assessment of Trinity Drive Reserve is now complete. Unfortunately, at the completion of this work, some non-friable fragments were found in a small area along the Cambridge Gardens Public School fence line. This area was emu picked by the licensed asbestos removal contractor under the supervision of the independent licensed asbestos assessor.

Due to the proximity of the asbestos concerns to the childcare centres, Council deemed it appropriate to have the independent licensed asbestos assessor carry out inspections of the area between the public school and the childcare centres and within the two childcare centres. The assessor has advised that no asbestos concerns were identified within the centres and within the area between the public school and the childcare centres.

Air monitoring continues to show that there are no airborne risks to the community. Air monitoring will continue within the reserve and adjacent to the childcare centres until the asbestos concerns have been resolved. 

30 January 2024 Update

The site assessment is now complete. An independent licensed asbestos assessor has issued a Clearance Certificate for this site. The Clearance Certificate confirms the surface area is free of surface asbestos.

During this process a licensed asbestos assessor was also engaged to undertake sampling of mulch across the entire site. Sample results have returned negative for asbestos containing material.

The site fencing will be removed as soon as possible. Council’s City Presentation department will commence ground maintenance from 31 January 2024.

Penrith City Council takes every asbestos incident seriously. The safety of residents, the community and out staff is our number one priority.

Thank you for your patience and understanding while this site assessment was undertaken, we recognise the isolation of access paths proved challenging for site users.

Should you require additional information, please contact Council on 4732 7777.


Asbestos awareness resources

The following videos provide general asbestos safety information, including specific information relating to some common Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM).

Further Information