THE NSW Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) is investigating the transportation and disposal of asbestos from a Summer Street building site following reports contractors may not have followed protocol when dealing with the hazardous material.
EPA representatives will focus on the transportation and disposal of construction and demolition waste from the Summer Centre shopping centre precinct, to a site on Clergate Road.
“Officers conducted a preliminary site inspection of the Summer Street premises on Tuesday following a complaint from a community member,” an EPA spokesperson said.
“The EPA will continue to keep Orange City Council and the community informed of its investigation and encourages anyone with information about this matter to contact the EPA’s environment line on 131 555.”
The spokesperson did not issued any warnings about the site or the route used to transport the material.
Fire Brigade Employees Union country organiser Greg Mitchell welcomed the investigation.
“I think it wasn’t removed according to correct procedure ... and, if not, all of the businesses in the area could be contaminated,” he said.
“It’s very dangerous material.”
Mr Mitchell said he had spoken with firefighters at the Orange station, which is opposite the building site, about the possible dangers, and warned them to be cautious about coming into contact with material, including dirt and air-borne particles, from the vicinity of the site.
Mr Mitchell said he would have “grave concerns” for the firefighters’ safety if they came in contact with the hazardous material.
Central West Community Alliance (CWCA) members have also expressed their concern at the possibility that hazardous material was incorrectly removed from the Summer Street site.
CWCA conveners Joe Maric and Bernard Fitzsimon said they wanted more transparency when it came to the identification, removal and transportation of asbestos from building sites.
Mr Maric said he wanted the area monitored to see if there were any asbestos particles in the air and he planned to doorknock nearby residents and businesses to confirm who was in the area at the time the material was removed.
A resident who lives near the building site contacted the Central Western Daily this week expressing her concern over the way the asbestos was removed and transported.
As a result of her concerns the woman said she and her family would avoid the area until they could be assured all protocols had been adhered to.
A WorkCover spokesperson said the organisation had been notified, by the licensed asbestos removalists, that the asbestos had been removed from the Summer Street site prior to demolition of the remainder of the building on Monday.
“A WorkCover inspector has visited the site, conducted a visual inspection and is satisfied with the work health and safety systems in place to manage the safe removal of asbestos containing material from the site,” the spokesperson said.
Orange City Council spokesman Nick Redmond it was up to WorkCover to investigate any concerns about the site.
“As it is a formal work site WorkCover is the lead agency and council takes a back seat,” he said.