Asbestos is known for being deadly at the best of times. Even in cases where people are aware of its presence, such as renovations of old homes or structured removal programs, even a tiny bit of exposure can cause people to develop mesothelioma or other dust diseases.
However, despite the well-publicised dangers associated with the substance, some people still appear to be ambivalent to its risks, consequently endangering themselves and others.
A recent case in WA calls to mind a similar incident in NSW where a man received a $225,000 fine for illegally disposing of asbestos in a manner that risked public health.
What events should people look out for?
Despite the hefty fines associated with the aforementioned NSW case, a man in WA proved that some people are still not taking the dangerous effects of asbestos exposure seriously.
In the WA incident, a man dumped a significant amount of fencing waste that was littered with asbestos in a national park. Incorrectly disposing of asbestos is dangerous in any situation, but the fact that this was in a publicly accessible section of the park further added to the seriousness of the case.
Why is this so dangerous?
If people simply see the detritus as normal garbage and try and clean it up themselves they may unwittingly expose themselves to asbestos.
Thankfully, the debris was spotted and dealt with quickly, hopefully limiting the potential for exposure. The fact the offender was caught should also help to reduce these incidents in the future, especially due to the substantial fine the man was awarded.
Department of Environment Regulation Acting Director-General Kelly Faulkner said the $10,000 fine should hopefully discourage copycats both in WA and around the rest of the country.
"This conviction makes it clear that severe penalties apply to anyone who illegally dumps waste across this state," she explained.
"These penalties are in place because the illegal dumping of waste can impact on the health of people and the environment, and is costly for the community."
In comparison to the maximum fine, the individual in this example got off lightly. The largest possible fine for this offence is just over $60,000 for individuals or up to $125,000 for businesses.
If you've been in contact with asbestos or other deadly fibres, it's worth getting an expert opinion from the lawyers at Gerard Malouf and Partners.