NSW storm damage debris contaminated by asbestos

Date: Feb 25, 2013

Extreme weather destroyed three homes in Kiama on NSW’s south coast during the weekend and extensively damaged dozens more, according to AAP.

That wasn’t the end of the story however, as the State Emergency Service has since confirmed that much of the resulting debris is contaminated with asbestos.

An asbestosis removal firm was at work today getting rid of the dangerous material, according to Kiama mayor Brian Petschler.

“Most of it is bonded, which means it hasn’t broken down into fibre,” Mr Petschler told AAP.

About 70 residents are to be evacuated from an ‘asbestos exclusion zone’ which was created by debris from the severely damaged roof of the Kiama Leisure centre and another house nearby that was destroyed.

Kiama’s mayor said that the residents would not be able to return to their homes until the area has been cleared.

“We’re very concerned and we’ve got major problems with the leisure centre which is largely built of asbestos materials,” said Mr Petschler.

Kiama isn’t the only place where asbestos materials pose a risk after the weekend’s extreme weather.

WorkCover NSW announced today (February 25) that it was providing assistance to the Environmental Protection Authority and Randwick City Council and liaising with asbestos removal specialists in Sydney’s southeast around Malabar and Chifley.

The Randwick City Council issued a storm damage update today, noting that strong winds caused damage to about 250 properties, including the asbestos-containing roof of the Malabar RSL Club, which was torn off completely.

Two teams of licensed asbestos removal specialists were able to remove visible traces of the material from public roads, footpaths and parks by 18:30 AEST.

The council has engaged an occupational hygienist to conduct regular assessments of all affected areas, and has also set up air monitoring systems in several locations to check for airborne material.

Randwick mayor Tony Bowen said that the work done so far by emergency service teams had been remarkable, and that council crews would be on site for as long as it took to clean up the damage.

“I appreciate residents may have some concerns, particularly about the asbestos material, so I’d encourage these people to speak with council staff or contractors onsite or phone or email us and we’ll get somebody out there,” said Mr Bowen.

Anyone suffering from asbestosis or another related dust condition should contact compensation lawyers in Sydney.

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