Asbestos scare at play park

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A DIRT pile containing asbestos fragments has sparked a safety scare at Chelsea Bicentennial Park.

Kingston Council CEO John Nevins said “a small number of asbestos cement sheet fragments” was found in a pile of soil dumped at the former landfill site on 13 October.

He said council fenced off the mound of soil and watered down “the contaminated pile until it was covered”.

“Independent expert advice has stated that, given the type of asbestos cement sheeting found, the risk at the site is zero to very minimal however council adopts a proactive and comprehensive response to issues of community safety,” Mr Nevins said in a statement.

Neighbouring residents say children had been seen playing on the dirt mounds near a children’s playground at Chelsea Bicentennial Park before council fenced off the area.

Former landfill sites need to be “capped”  by soil mounds on an ongoing basis until the site settles over time.

“The community was kept fully informed through signage at the site and via an information bulletin sent to surrounding residents,” Mr Nevins said.

The CEO advised the soil was sourced from Department of Education owned land at Glenola Rd, Chelsea earmarked as the future site of a new Chelsea kindergarten.

“Independent investigations had classified the site as ‘low risk’ and suitable for use as a kindergarten, in line with Department of Education guidelines,” Mr Nevins said.

“However a small amount of non-friable asbestos cement sheeting was identified in the soil that had been delivered to Bicentennial Park. Soil from the site was not delivered to any other sites. The soil was sourced at no cost to council.”

Council hired environmental assessors to inspect the Glenola Rd site.

“Results indicated that two small isolated areas of the site contained small amounts of asbestos along with slightly elevated concentrations of heavy metals – lead and zinc – in the surface fill material,” Mr Nevins said.

He said the contaminants were most likely associated with past use of lead-based paint at the former residential site in building material from a former house demolished at the site.

Kingston Council will now work with the Environment Protection Agency to oversee the removal of the soil containing asbestos within the next fortnight.

Removal will be carried out by licensed asbestos removal contractors.

Asbestos was often used in building materials until the 1980s and small fibre particles can be a health danger if the material is sanded, drilled or sawn.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 30 November 2016

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