A popular Sydney beach will be closed for two weeks after asbestos was found on its surface eight months ago.
A local resident first found the dangerous substance on Little Bay Beach in Sydney’s eastern suburbs in August last year, and Randwick City Council said it was “continuing” to find more.
The beach will be closed for two weeks from Monday to allow for a “detailed site investigation”.
“We’re continuing to find asbestos-containing materials on the surface,” Mayor Danny Said said in a statement.
“We need to undertake a more detailed inspection to understand the extent of the contamination and how best to manage it in the long-term.”
Randwick Council said its investigation would help determine the location, source and extent of the asbestos-containing materials.
But it is confident the beach is still safe and will reopen it on weekends for use during the closure.
“Since the asbestos was discovered, we have worked closely with external experts to make sure the beach remains safe for use by undertaking regular ’emu picks’ and ongoing site monitoring,” Mayor Said said.
In the week after the asbestos was first found, 100 fragments were discovered on the beach, which were removed and tested.
“Given the ongoing discovery of asbestos fragments on the beach, it is likely the material is surfacing from nearby gullies which may have been used as landfill sites prior to 1988 when the adjacent Prince Henry Hospital was operating,” the council said on its website.
After speaking with long-term residents, the council said the beach may have been used as a dumping site.
“Such practices were not uncommon along the eastern suburbs coastline,” it said.
Asbestos was a popular building product in Australia during a large part of the last century.
It was used because of its resistance to fire and high temperatures.
But it was banned after it was found tiny fibres from the material can be easily breathed in, which then become stuck in a person’s lungs.
This can lead to an increased chance of developing cancers, like mesothelioma, decades after exposure.
Forty-five test pits will be dug along Little Bay Beach, so soil samples can be taken, and the results will be published on the council’s website.
The holes will be re-filled before the beach re-opens.