Australia banned the use of asbestos as a building material decades ago. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done, and there are a number of properties spread across NSW and the rest of Australia that still contain the substance.
In these cases, it presents an unwelcome surprise for tradespeople working on a building or homeowners performing a bit of DIY. It takes sustained contact with the deadly fibres to prompt diseases such as Mesothelioma, an incurable illness that drastically affects the life of people who contract it.
Because of these dangers, there are severe penalties for companies or individuals that fail to dispose of asbestos materials in a safe manner. A recent incident illustrated just how seriously authorities take these concerns.
EPA discovers asbestos infringement
It is critical that when or if people come across unwanted asbestos material, they dispose of it in a controlled manner. A recent investigation from the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered a waste management company that failed to follow these instructions.
At a landfill run by the company, the EPA discovered a collection of asbestos cement that was left uncovered in the disposal area. The material was also broken up, making it easier for people to come into contact with the fibres.
The EPA issued the company with a $15,000 fine for failing to adhere to the compliance pressures mandated for operating this type of facility.
EPA Senior Manager of Waste Compliance Chris McElwain believes the firm's actions posed a significant threat to the health of both its employees and any other people who came into the area.
"By not appropriately covering the asbestos disposal area, [the company] created a situation that was potentially harmful to human health," he stated.
"The EPA will continue to conduct rigorous compliance inspections with a particular focus on proper waste management practices."
According to the EPA, fines of this nature are just one of tools available for limiting the effects of asbestos mismanagement. If needed, the organisation can also criminally prosecute those it deems to be responsible for these incidents, depending on their severity.
The final judgements are based on a number of criteria, including whether or not people were actually harmed in the incident and the offender in question's previous compliance history.
If you have questions about a case involving asbestos, contact the lawyers at Gerard Malouf and Partners.