OHS and WHS: Illegal dumping of asbestos on suburban street poses risk to residents

The ten tonnes of asbestos that was found dumped in the middle of a suburban street in Chester Hill on Monday was only metres from the front yards of residents.

According to News Limited, residents notified police and fire crews around 1am after noticing the toxic material in the middle of their street.

Fire crews arrived suited up in HAZMAT gear and found concrete, branches, piping and asbestos. The street was blocked off and residents told to stay clear of the waste.

Manager of the Sydney Regional Illegal Dumping Squad, Darryl Atkins told Fairfax Media that it appears the truck driver had scoped out the street before making the dump.

"About 11.30 last night a truck, a construction vehicle has come down with a load of material [and] gone up and down the street a couple of times and for whatever reason has decided to unload its payload right here in the middle of the street," Atkins told Fairfax Media.

"It is a bit of an unusual combination of material but definitely something that doesn't belong on a residential street."

While Atkins said tipping fees were often cited as the reason for illegal dumping, he thought it was more to do with people being lazy.

"We're finding that people in the waste and demolition and transport industries are tending to do this; they seem to want to cut corners and this is just not an appropriate material or place to undertake this sort of work," he said.

Although fire crews treated the waste as if it definitely contained asbestos, Atkins said samples were still being tested and it would be a few days before results were back.

In NSW the fee for asbestos-contaminated waste to be disposed of properly is $480 a tonne, but fines applied for failing to dispose of it properly.

"For an individual, they can face a fine of $2000, and for a company it goes up to $4000," Atkins said.

"We also have the option of taking the matter through the courts and in that case it's up to the court to impose the penalty, but the fines have gone right up to $1 million depending on the type of material and the volume of material."

Resident Wayne Anderson told Fairfax Media the huge waste dump was "something different" to wake up to.


Image sourced from Flickr cc: Citysider

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