The Mayor of Gwydir Shire Council says historic asbestos dump sites found at Warialda aren’t related to a more recent incident of illegal dumping in the town.
The Environment Protection Authority has been investigating the Council’s asbestos management since broken pipes, made from bonded asbestos and mixed in with excavated soil, were dumped near the town’s Showground
Following tip-offs from the community, the Authority last week confirmed it had found three sites where asbestos was dumped up to 20 years ago, with another six sites still to be tested.
Gwydir Mayor, John Coulton, says he suspects this type of dumping has occurred all over the state.
“I think it happened before people were even aware of the danger of asbestos and I think you’ll find it’s right around NSW and I think every Council’s going to have the same problem,” he said.
“Certainly. the [dumping] incident of a couple of weeks ago was a mistake, but it was isolated and I think the other discoveries have just occurred over the years, before there was any regulation.”
John Coulton says it’s obvious the material at the newly-discovered sites has been there a long time.
“We’ve printed a map out and the men are going to put spots on the map where they think there could be asbestos, but they’re old sites and they’re quite stable until moved,” he said.
“We’ll be advised by the EPA as to what we need to do with them, but I think they’ll be covered over and their location recorded so there can’t ever be any future development there.”
John Coulton also says Council staff who illegally dump asbestos will face the sack.
He says he’s confident it won’t happen again.
“It was a terrible thing to happen, it should never have happened, and I’ve been assured by Council staff that it’ll never happen again,” he said.
“We have a protocol for handling asbestos and what’s been added to that protocol now is that if any Shire employee illegally dumps asbestos it will be an immediate dismissal.”