Council denies asbestos breach

ORANGE City Council staff have defended the handling of naturally-occurring asbestos at the north Orange bypass despite concerns from a resident who believes the council is breaching its own asbestos guidelines by not watering down or covering suspect rock.

Jean Meiring regularly takes her two small children to visit her parents at Icely Road but is concerned the council’s non-compliance with their Asbestos Management Plan is putting workers and the public at unnecessary risk.

She contacted the council two weeks ago about two mounds left on either side of Icely Road, which she believed could contain asbestos.

“From my my reading of the Asbestos Management Plan for this area, any rock that is uncovered should be treated as containing naturally-occurring asbestos unless proven otherwise,” she said.

“This has not been proven at this point in time.”

Mrs Meiring said she was concerned work to realign the Icely Road intersection could see the suspect rock moved, unnecessarily exposing the public and workers on site to asbestos.

Council technical services director Chris Devitt confirmed Mrs Meiring’s interpretation of the management plan was correct, but said the council had been following the regulations.

“We don’t believe there is any risk to public safety,” he said.

“We are certainly well experienced at mitigating the naturally-occurring asbestos. There is probably some doubt if there is any on site but we’re taking a precautionary approach.”

Mr Devitt said a geologist had told the council the piles of rock were base rock, but the council had still treated it like it was asbestos by covering and watering it down as a precaution.

Mrs Meiring said air monitoring of the site showed no detectable levels of asbestos because rain two days prior had settled the dust.

“Council was due to have a meeting with WorkCover over that matter this week, but I have not been informed of any outcome,” she said. 

“It seems reasonable that the general public should be able to be informed.”

“When there should be no exposure, some level of exposure and the public not being informed of this is not good enough.”

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