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Adelaide property alert: Asbestos found in reusable materials

16 July 2021

It has been identified that asbestos-contaminated rubble from an Adelaide waste transfer station  has been used for many homes and do-it-yourself projects for up to three years.

The Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority (FRWA) received a tip-off from one of their customers that there may be asbestos present in road base produced at their Goolwa Transfer Station. The road base is be made up of recycled and crushed concrete, bricks, cement sheeting and rocks. After testing, it was determined that the material did indeed contain asbestos, and Greencap confirmed the initial assessment was correct.

As a result of the confirmation of asbestos, FRWA was required to notify the South Australia (SA) Environment Protection Authority (EPA). FRWA then had to comply with the requirements of an Environment Protection Order (EPO), and Greencap was able to provide necessary services, such as assessment, remediation design, and validation reporting.

Identification & Remediation of Risks

Greencap is assisting in the coordination and removal of asbestos containing material (ACM) from up to 71 properties in South Australia. Over 40 inspections have been done by Greencap, and Greencap is working with property owners to begin specially prepared remediation plans.

Greencap classified and characterised the risks, then plans for the elimination of risk were prepared to facilitate the remediation. Oversight of remediation was required in order to minimise the amount of material requiring movement from the affected properties. Since every tonne moved has an associated cost, Greencap is tasked with cost minimisation along with daily fibre monitoring.

Facilitating the cost-effective disposal meant that Greencap obtained an exemption for FRWA to dispose of the asbestos contaminated road base at their transfer station. The alternative was for FRWA to dispose the contaminated road base at a third-party landfill. This action alone saved the FRWA close to $3 million.

The proposed remediation plans for removing contaminated material are detailed on the Greencap website service pages on remediation action planning and asbestos soil management.

Awareness of Contaminated Materials

Asbestos can still be found in a wide range of materials. In this case, it was mixed into concrete, bricks, cement sheets and Stobie poles (power line poles made of two steel joists held apart by a concrete slab that are very common in Adelaide), which then ended up in road base aggregate. There is the potential for civil contractors to be unknowingly contaminating properties on which they are conducting work. Knowing about this means that material producers and importers can ensure they are not receiving Asbestos Containing Materials (ACM).

Recyclers do not want to end up in a position where they are accidentally recycling contaminated materials. Thus, awareness training, review of screening procedures and regular testing of the feedstock and output is essential.

Other waste recovery facilities, which are often run by councils, need to raise the importance of awareness of handling and disposing of asbestos requirements when conducting home renovations, and the need to contact a licenced professional when unsure. Far from being a problem only for South Australia, this is a national issue.

If you would like to learn more, enrol yourself or your team in Greencap’s online asbestos awareness course, $5 from the proceeds of each enrolment will be donated to Reflections, a charity that assists people suffering from asbestos-related illnesses, their families and the community.

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