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Illegal Dumping in Bruce – Asbestos Cover-Up?

By PM - 11 November 2008 44

[First filed: 6 November 2008]

Some Rioters may have come across this dumping ground in Bruce near the stadium and some of the newer residences in the suburb:

The dump has been there for some time. When I first noticed the dump, there was merely a sign or two saying words to the effect of “no dumping”. The sign wasn’t authorised by any government office. It looked quite amateurish. Sorry I don’t have a photo of it, but hopefully some readers may have seen it.

A few weeks ago, I noticed more signs with a wire seemingly designed to prevent access to the site.

“Good,” thought I. “Somebody is actually making it difficult to illegally dump on the site rather than just placing a couple of useless signs around.” Well, that wasn’t the case. On closer inspection, the new signs were, well, different.

A work site, eh? Hmm. Still no authorisation on the signs. There was no building activity (and there still isn’t after a few weeks). I couldn’t find anything about the “work site” on the Planning website, but I’m happy to be corrected.

So what did I do? I did some digging. I’m informed that the ACT government (at least at some level – not necessarily any Minister) has been informed that the dump site probably contains asbestos. Don’t get me wrong – I have not been told that asbestos is certainly on the site, but I have been told confidentially that the site is being treated as if it has asbestos, and some samples appear to back that up.

Naturally, I have some questions for the government and for any readers who may be able to shed any light on the subject:

    1. How long does it normally take the government to remove illegally dumped waste from a semi-residential area?
    2. Is the government responsible for the signs and, if so, why was/is there no authorisation on them?
    3. Is the site a work site? If so, what’s the hold up and, if not, what is it going to be?
    4. Did the government erect the wire barrier, and why?
    5. Is the government aware of the allegation/possibility that asbestos is included in the illegally dumped material and, if so, why is it accessible to the public?
    6. If the government knows or believes asbestos is on the site, what is being done to fix it, and is the response in line with best-practice guidelines?

So Rioters, if you have any info that could help me out, post away! Thanks.

UPDATED: The Canberra Times has come to the party:

    New Territory and Municipal Services Minister Jon Stanhope said yesterday the discovery of asbestos since then had caused the delay.

    ”During the clean-up process, ACT Government staff identified asbestos sheeting on the site,” he said.

    ”The clean-up of the site has been delayed while the asbestos is properly removed according to removal guidelines.

    ”I have been advised that the asbestos is contained, fenced off and does not pose a risk to the community. The site will be cleaned up as soon as possible.”

Anyone else think it’s adequately contained? And is hazmat policy these days to not document the hazard?

(Slideshow below)

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44 Responses to
Illegal Dumping in Bruce – Asbestos Cover-Up?
PM 1:10 pm 06 Nov 08

Comments are on the money. I just want to know that, if the asbestos rumour is true, the site is being treated professionally. Doesn’t look like it to me.

poptop 1:03 pm 06 Nov 08

As we always used to tell the customers – just don’t lick it.

p1 12:52 pm 06 Nov 08

Of course, lots of it is protected by several layers lead based paint.

🙂 thats ok then.

poptop 12:41 pm 06 Nov 08

There is a lot of the asbestos containing interior cladding for wet areas and also (allegedly) quite a lot in the cladding under eaves in Canberra houses of a certain age. Of course, lots of it is protected by several layers lead based paint.

caf 12:39 pm 06 Nov 08

This is pretty timely – there were a couple of uteloads of TAMS guys poking around there yesterday. They didn’t appear to be wearing much in the way of PPE though, just the hi-vis vests.

GB 12:15 pm 06 Nov 08

tylersmayhem said :

What is defined as “cladding”? Do you mean the stuff that was once used as sheeting in bathrooms etc, which has since been replaced by Gyprock? Kind of like fibro board?

“Cladding” = “Fibro” – the stuff on the outside walls of older “fibro houses” eg in old Ainslie.

Interior cladding in wet areas was usually a slightly different product, also containing asbestos.

Modern replacement is “cement sheet”, which is reinforced with cellulose fibre, not asbestos.

Gyprock is a different product: paper-faced plasterboard. Older Canberra houses would have sisal-reinforced plaster sheets. I don’t think asbestos was used for dry-area internal plaster in Canberra.

Danman 11:39 am 06 Nov 08

@ p1, no asbestos is 100% safe – just some are not as harmful – leaving asbestos sheets in harsh environmental conditions is what I would typefy asbeing treated in a way that can creat airborne particles. Asbestos, in any form should be treated with critical control points.

@tylers – Correct – Asbestos was also used in cement for a long time as well, and theres tons of it buried on site at Lawson, just up and across teh road from Bruce.

We had asbestos cladding in our bathroom laundry and kitchen in Lyneham, as splashbacks.

Its fine, so long as long as its in situ and not treated in a way that can create airborne particles, i.e. home handyman removal of said sheets, cutting, grinding, sanding etc.

Asbestos is pretty indiscriminate as well, I have heard old stories of guys who worked in asbestos mines who have never contracted asbestosis, but members of their family have because he has introduced airborne particles from his clothing into their living environment.

Even though some is safer than others, it should only be handled by qualified removal/disposal operators.

If you have to handle it yourself, your crazy, I would suggest at least a full face P3 asbestos rated mask and disposable overalls and booties. On Exit, You shoul dhave a full decontam bath to wet all exposed areas to ensure dust particles stay settled, and then throw the exposed overalls and booties into an asbestos rated disposal unit.

Of course I am quite happy to be corrected where applicable.

Cladding or not, it should never be exposed to the open atmosphere, it could quite easily weather and send up asbestos particled from adverse environmental conditions.

poptop 11:34 am 06 Nov 08

Correct. It’s fine in situ as long as it’s painted and uncracked. Do not put nails in it.

Theoretically you are required to have a properly licenced person to remove the sheeting style asbestos and they are required to remove and dispose of it in the approved manner.

I don’t think dumping it at unapproved sites is the approved manner.

p1 11:18 am 06 Nov 08

The cladding is fine, so long as it is not treated in a way that can creat airborne particles.

While this is arguably true, smashing it up, and dumping it in a field, would probably qualify as treated in a way that can creat airborne particles.

tylersmayhem 11:09 am 06 Nov 08

The cladding is fine, so long as it is not treated in a way that can creat airborne particles.

What is defined as “cladding”? Do you mean the stuff that was once used as sheeting in bathrooms etc, which has since been replaced by Gyprock? Kind of like fibro board?

Gungahlin Al 10:30 am 06 Nov 08
Holden Caulfield 10:29 am 06 Nov 08

The athletes! Won’t somebody think of the athletes. It’s already bad enough that their precious air quality has been so contaminated by the evils of suburban progress, now this!!!

Sn00pi 10:22 am 06 Nov 08

I live just up the road from this eyesore, and the fact that it may have asbestos amongst it is concerning. How many kids in the area are treasure hunting in there? I know if I was a kid it would be a pretty attractive place to go, regardless of signs.

Danman 10:14 am 06 Nov 08

there are many grades of asbestos, Hopefully its more the cladding type, and less the fibre type.

The fibre type of asbestos is soo fine and light that if stirred in a still environment (Think abandoned factory) it can remain airborne for days.

Thats the stuff that gets in to your lungs and does damage.

The cladding is fine, so long as it is not treated in a way that can creat airborne particles.

In any case, there is no room in public spaces for ANY type of asbestos.

niftydog 10:12 am 06 Nov 08

There’s strange piles of junk dotted all around that area, like slightly east of the big dump there’s dozens of small mounds of fill, and further east near the bike path and the AIS vehicle depot there’s more mounds of fill – but the rubbish piling up around them has been steadily growing over the years. I always assumed it was the AIS’s own little dumping ground.

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