Asbestos site ‘too close’ to railway station

The dump site at Port Kembla. Picture: MELANIE RUSSELLUnion officials have raised concerns that soil shipped from Barangaroo to Port Kembla and found to contain asbestos has been stockpiled too close to Port Kembla railway station.
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However, Port Kembla Port Corporation (PKPC) chief executive officer Dom Figliomeni said air monitors showed that asbestos fibres had not been dispersed as a result of the stockpile.

The Environment Protection Authority also said any risk was ‘‘extremely low’’.

‘‘Within the 15,000 tonnes, the 25 pieces of asbestos, which were no bigger than about a mobile phone, were safely removed and disposed of according to the law,’’ Mr Figliomeni said.

‘‘So there isn’t any exposed asbestos on site and the air monitoring shows that there are no airborne fibres as a result.’’

The EPA has also directed PKPC to keep the material compacted, damp and unmoved.

Shipments to Port Kembla were quickly stopped after the first 15,000 tonnes of soil unloaded from the bulk carrier CSL Pacific last week were found to contain a small amount of the deadly substance.

The stockpile won’t grow unless the EPA grants developer Lend Lease a new resource recovery exemption.

The South Coast Labour Council yesterday endorsed bans on unloading or handling further shipments.

Maritime Union of Australia southern NSW branch secretary Garry Keane raised concerns about how the soil was stored.

‘‘Given the ineffectiveness of their screening process at the other end, we absolutely have to have a concern as to any other pollutants… that may have got through their screening processes,’’ he said.

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