Ratepayers cop bill for asbestos clean-up

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Dirt piles: Soil at Bicentennial Park before it was moved on again.

KINGSTON ratepayers will foot the full bill to move soil containing fragments of asbestos from Chelsea’s Bicentennial Park to a tip.

Kingston Council was forced to remove a dirt pile from the park after it emerged that soil taken from a Glenola Rd site in Chelsea earmarked for a new kindergarten contained traces of the potentially harmful material.

The Glenola Rd site is leased by council from the state government and council CEO John Nevins said he would ask the Department of Education to pay for the $90,000 outlaid to remove the soil from Bicentennial Park.

Department of Education spokesman Steve Tolley told The News the state government is pitching in $2 million towards the construction a new kindergarten at Glenola Rd and “there is no scope for this contribution to be increased”.

“The soil in Bicentennial Park was not moved there by the department,” Mr Tolley said.

“Health and safety in the park is an issue for Kingston Council.”

He said the department would ensure the site is safe before a kindergarten is built at Glenola Rd near Chelsea Primary School.

“Once the City of Kingston detected asbestos in the soil of this site, the Victorian School Building Authority ran precautionary air quality tests at Chelsea Primary School.

“No airborne asbestos fibres were detected.”

Mr Nevins has said he has appointed “an independent expert” to investigate how asbestos-contaminated soil was transported to Bicentennial Park in October last year.

The soil was moved and dumped at an Environment Protection Authority approved tip in December.

Mr Nevins says independent expert advice stated any risk to the public from the asbestos fragments was “very minimal”.

“It is believed the source of the contaminants was most likely historical use of lead-based paint at the site, building material from a former house demolished at the site or from fill material brought to the site sometime in the past,” the CEO said in a statement.

“Results indicated that isolated areas of the site contained small amounts of asbestos and heavy metals — lead and zinc — in the surface fill material.”

Council estimates the full cost of the clean-up of both the Glenola Rd and Bicentennial Park sites will be $813,500.

First published in the Chelsea Mordialloc Mentone News – 1 February 2017

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