- Written by Jeremy Bentvelzen Penrith City Council (02) 4732 7777 (02) 4732 7958 email@example.com https://www.penrithcity.nsw.gov.au 601 High St Penrith NSW 2750 Australia
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is the name used for a group of naturally occurring minerals. They have resistance to high temperatures and fire making them effective insulators which were popular in building products in Australia from the 1940’s to 1987. Products containing asbestos were phased out during the 1980’s. A national ban on asbestos, its importation and all products containing asbestos came into effect at the end of 2003.
Asbestos fibres are easily breathed in where they can become trapped in the lungs. Being exposed to asbestos increases the risk of developing cancers of the lung and larynx as well as mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lung). These cancers often develop decades after exposure to asbestos.
Asbestos safety in Penrith
Unfortunately, the discovery of Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) is not uncommon across Australia due to its historical popularity as a building material. Penrith City Council treats the discovery of asbestos with strict policies and procedures as the safety of residents, the community and our staff is our number one priority. 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.
To ensure a consistent approach to asbestos, Penrith City Council has developed an Asbestos Policy (Asbestos Policy) based on the Model Asbestos Policy for NSW Councils. This Policy details our commitment to asbestos management as an organisation and for the community. The Policy outlines roles and responsibilities to help ensure the safe management and disposal of asbestos across our City.
What is Council's role?
Penrith City 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 (ACM) 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).
Please note that SafeWork NSW (https://www.safework.nsw.gov.au/) 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.
Environmental Investigations and Asbestos Remediations
A large portion of Councils’ asbestos related work in the community is the investigation and remediation of asbestos contamination on public land. Council’s Divisional Assurance Team responds and manages asbestos related matters that impact Council owned land and buildings. When asbestos is found, strict procedures are implemented to ensure that the community and our workers are safe. Council also engages licensed asbestos contractors, licensed asbestos assessors, consultants, and NSW Hazmat units to ensure that all SafeWork NSW and Environment Protection Authority requirements are met. This includes (but is not limited to) removing any asbestos risks, implementing suitable controls, undertaking air monitoring and clearance inspections (in accordance with SafeWork NSW Code of Practice) and undertaking detailed environmental investigations where more complex situations arise.
The following information relates to specific sites that are subject to current environmental investigations and remediation projects underway in the city. For further information on current environmental investigations and remediation projects in our City, contact Council’s Divisional Assurance Team on 4732 8647.
- All SafeWork NSW and Environment Protection Authority requirements will be followed.
- Access to the investigation areas will be restricted to the public during the works.
- Signage will be placed on the site, where required.
- Air monitoring will be undertaken to ensure there are no airborne risks to the community.
As previously advised, environmental investigations were undertaken at Bennett Park, St Marys, in March 2021 and some asbestos concerns were identified. As soon as the suspected asbestos containing material was found, Penrith City Council staff immediately implemented strict procedures to make the area safe and obtained a Clearance Certificate from an independent assessor.
Additional site investigations were conducted in June 2022 in preparation for the construction of a new mixed recreation space in the park, which is being designed in consultation with the local community.
These investigations determined the area between Stapleton Parade and King Street in Bennett Park will require remediation in line with SafeWork NSW and NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) requirements. This is due to the presence of asbestos and varying ground conditions within the reserve, which has the potential to impact the long-term settlement of the mixed recreation space.
Council plan to engage a Class A licensed asbestos contractor to undertake the remediation work on the site. This work will include the removal of asbestos material and preloading the site with appropriate fill and monitoring its settlement to ensure optimal site conditions before commencing construction of the new mixed recreation space.
Council envisages this work will commence in January 2023 and could take up to 12 months to complete.
The remediation works will be overseen by an independent licensed asbestos assessor, who will ensure all SafeWork NSW and NSW EPA requirements are met. This will include undertaking air monitoring to ensure there are no airborne risks to the community.
Penrith City Council takes every asbestos incident seriously. The safety of residents, the community and our staff is our number one priority.
If you have any questions about the proposed project, please contact Matt Hill, Community Facilities and Recreation Planning & Projects Officer, on 4732 7777.
If you have any questions regarding the completed investigation, please contact Jonathan Page, Asbestos Management Officer, on 4732 7777.
Penrith City Council has been addressing an asbestos matter within Huntington Reserve, Emu Plains. The asbestos is located in two small sections of the northern creek embankment, near River Road, Emu Plains. The material is legacy waste from historic dumping.
As soon as Council became aware of the asbestos containing material, strict protocols were implemented. This included implementing suitable controls such as warning barricades, application of geofabric, signage and applying a bonding agent to the material to prevent the release of asbestos fibres.
In addition, Council engaged an independent licensed asbestos assessor to conduct an assessment. The assessment concluded that the material is non-friable asbestos and that there is no airborne risk from the asbestos. NSW Health outlines that non-friable asbestos poses a low health risk if it is not being disturbed. This is because the asbestos fibres are bonded together, and the asbestos fibres cannot be readily released into the atmosphere.
Council recently engaged licensed asbestos contractors to commence removing the asbestos material. This process was a complex operation as the waste was positioned on a steep embankment of the creek line.
During this removal operation, approximately 1.2 tonnes of waste was removed from the site. Unfortunately, the removal operation had to be suspended as an assessment on the site showed that any further removal works had the potential to destabilise the creek embankment which could in turn cause other safety and environmental hazards.
Any remaining material in this location is located within the sub-soil of the embankment. In turn, it has been secured and covered with geofabric. The area has also been fenced off, with asbestos signs erected.
What is the next step?
Council will continue to manage the asbestos risk on site. In addition, we will be seeking further expert and technical advice on the most appropriate method to remove the remaining waste while protecting the embankments integrity.
Should you have any questions please contact Jonathan Page on 4732 7777.
As previously advised, environmental investigations were undertaken at the corner of Swanston and Collins Streets, St Marys, last year. The results from the investigations have been received and, unfortunately, there are a few areas that present asbestos concerns across the site.
Due to these findings, secondary delineation sampling was required to assist in pinpointing the contamination. This detailed information will assist the development of a remediation strategy for the site.
Penrith City Council takes every asbestos incident seriously. The safety of residents, the community and our staff are our number one priority.
Thank you for your understanding. Should you require additional information, please do not hesitate to contact Jonathan Page on 4732 7777.
Council is transforming its 32-hectare former waste facility site at Claremont Meadows into a landmark sport and recreation destination.
This transformation includes asbestos remediation at the site.
An independent licenced asbestos assessor will undertake air monitoring during the asbestos remediation works to ensure there are no airborne risks to the community.
Penrith City Council takes every asbestos incident seriously. The safety of residents, the community and out staff is our number one priority.
If you have any questions about the asbestos removal or the Gipps Street Recreation Precinct, please contact Council on 4732 7777.
The following videos provide general asbestos safety information, including specific information relating to some common Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM).
- Dangers of cladding over asbestos
- Pressure cleaning of asbestos roofs
- Working safely with asbestos
- Clear and present danger: Asbestos exposed
For information about asbestos, its risks and what to do if you find it in your home, please visit the NSW Government's Asbestos Website: https://www.asbestos.nsw.gov.au/
The NSW Government's Asbestos Website has lots of information relating to asbestos including:
- what is asbestos
- identifying asbestos
- asbestos advice for DIY-ers
- asbestos advice from tradies
- health risks
- safety information
- removal and disposal.