January 23, 2019

Asbestos debris left on verge for months

The asbestos was left on the verge for two months before the woman moved it back into her backyard.

The asbestos was left on the verge for two months before the woman moved it back into her backyard. Photo: Echo Newspapers

The Swan shire has come under fire for leaving a pile of asbestos on a verge in Middle Swan for around two months, without covering it or putting on any signage to warn people of the health hazard.

The debris was created when a resident on the corner of Bishop Road and Brown Street pulled down the fence and dumped it in the yard of the house next door – before she erected a new fence.

When unwitting tenants moved into the house on Brown Street they assumed the asbestos was fibro and took the pile to the tip.

But the tip refused to accept the asbestos because the hazardous material was not properly wrapped.


Following his unsuccessful trip to the tip, the worried tenant put the asbestos on the verge to keep it away from his partner and her two children, and the pile has sat on the verge uncovered since before Christmas.

Brown Street resident Rita Reinholdtsen said at least six phone calls had been made to alert the shire about the asbestos on the verge by concerned neighbours, but it was not removed.

“Instead the owner of the fence kept getting extensions on the timeframe she was given to move the asbestos pile she had created.”

“At the very least the shire should have covered it or put tape around it or signs to alert people of the health risks.

“There’s a young lass next door who is pregnant, she walks to school with her four-year-old and her mother-in-law and they walk right past it every day.”

The Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia president Robert Vojakovic agreed the shire had been irresponsible.

“It has been reported to the city, they know it’s on the verge, they can remove the asbestos and recoup the cost,” he said.

“The fact it has been allowed to sit on the verge since before Christmas is extraordinary.

“There is also the issue of risk management – you can’t expect ordinary people to clean this up.”

Shortly after Echo News put an enquiry in to the city the resident who originally pulled the fence down was told by a council representative she had to remove the pile as a priority.

So she, and her two teenage daughters, picked the asbestos sheets up off the verge and threw them back over the fence into thier backyard.

Mrs Reinholdtsen said she was horrified to watch them handle the asbestos without any masks on.

“They just had gloves and shorts on – no protective clothing and obviously they don’t understand that fibres get stuck in your clothing and lungs.”

The woman who removed the asbestos said she recieved no help from the shire.

“I would have been fine paying back the shire if they removed the asbestos and then billed me but when I asked them who could I contact to remove the pile for us, if they knew a contractor, I was told to use Google.”

She said she felt pressured after a phone call from the shire on Tuesday, so she put on some gloves and just got on with it.

But Slater & Gordon asbestos lawyer Laine McDonald said residents who cleaned up disturbed asbestos risked being exposed, especially without adequate respiratory protection.

“Around 250 Western Australians die every year from asbestos-related diseases and as long as asbestos products remain in our community we continue to be at risk.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said the City of Swan’s environmental health officer was the first point of contact for residential asbestos issues.

The spokesperson said if a resident had problems contacting the shire they could call the Health Department’s Environmental Health Directorate on 9388 4999.

“[The directorate] will follow-up with the relevant local government to ensure that any potential risk to public health has been appropriately managed.”

The spokesperson said it was not the City of Swan’s responsibility to remove the asbestos.

“But it can do if there is a default in complying with a notice, and costs can be recouped at a later stage.

“Under the Health (Asbestos) Regulations there is no set timeframe when asbestos needs to be removed.

“However, a notice or verbal advice would normally specify that this would be expected as soon as possible and practical.”

Mr McDonald said anyone who was worried about exposure to asbestos should add their details to Slater & Gordon’s online register.

“These important particulars are recorded in perpetuity, so that people don’t have to remember vital details if they’re dealing with an asbestos-related disease in decades to come.”

The City of Swan was contacted for comment.

– Echo Newspapers

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Asbestos debris left on verge for months

Perth Hills fire exposes deadly asbestos fibres

Warning to Perth Hills residents as fire exposes deadly asbestos fibres

WA News


Leanne Nicholson

Fire damaged vehicles are pictured on a Stoneville property in Narla Retreat.Click for more photos

Perth hills fire devastates community

Fire damaged vehicles are pictured on a Stoneville property in Narla Retreat. Photo: Getty Images

Residents recovering from the devastating Perth Hills fires have been warned of a secondary danger facing homeowners and clean-up services.

Asbestos in homes and buildings may have been exposed or disturbed by the fires, specialist in the deadly fibres Laine McDonald said.

Ms McDonald said residents who returned to their properties and homes to begin the clean-up process should be aware of the risks of asbestos dust.

“As residents start cleaning up after the fires, they could be at risk of exposure, especially without adequate respiratory protection,” said Ms McDonald, a Slater and Gordon asbestos lawyer.


“Once breathed in, the dust released by damaged asbestos products can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and other serious lung diseases.

“Around 250 Western Australians die every year from asbestos-related diseases and as long as asbestos products remain in our community we continue to be at risk.

“Most of us wouldn’t be able to tell if our homes contained asbestos, but as a general rule, if it was built before the mid 1980s there could be a risk to health.”

Information about handling asbestos during the clean-up can be found on the Department of Health’s website.

Ms McDonald said while there were ways to remove damaged asbestos themselves, it was much safer for residents to use an asbestos removal contractor.

Fairfax Media has contacted the Shire of Mundaring for comment.

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Perth Hills fire exposes deadly asbestos fibres

Asbestos dust cloud threatens Beagle Bay school

Parents have been keeping their children away from a remote Kimberley school amid fears an old asbestos building being demolished just metres away poses a serious health risk.

An angry Jacinta Monck pulled her four children, aged 6-11, out of Sacred Heart School in Beagle Bay after part of its ceiling collapsed last Monday as water was being sprayed onto walls to help stop particles becoming airborne.

The incident created a huge dust cloud while children played during their lunch break. “There was a loud bang and a dust cloud had risen above the building being demolished,” Ms Monck said.

“The children were all ushered into the classroom and two of the school’s employees ran over to say ‘please stop work’.

“From that, it came that they would only work after school hours for the asbestos removal.”

Ms Monck was aware the work was happening but said a date was never given to parents.

“I was not told about what happened until I got home (last Monday) because I live on an outstation on the Dampier Peninsula,” Ms Monck said. “I was shocked and pulled my children out for the rest of the week.”

“My thing is not with the contractors, it is with the timing of the whole thing – school holidays are just two weeks away. No one had any forethought.”

An incident report has been prepared for the Shire of Broome.

Mining and Pastoral Member Stephen Dawson has written to Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Peter Collier calling for the work to be suspended at the school.

In the letter, Mr Dawson said the dismantling of the structure posed a risk to the health of children and urged Mr Collier to postpone the works until school holidays.

“This will ensure that students are not necessarily taken out of school as the community becomes increasingly concerned for their children’s welfare,” he wrote.

After travelling to Beagle Bay and meeting with the school principal Lyla Forte last weekend Mr Dawson said work removing the asbestos had not begun when he was there.

He could understand parents’ concerns and that children should not be at school while an asbestos-ridden building was torn down.

Several calls to the school went unanswered last week.

In July the _Broome Advertiser _first lifted the lid on Aboriginal communities plagued with abandoned buildings.

The Shire of Derby/West Kimberley said one of them in Bayulu were a significant health risk because fibres had the potential to become airborne.

The Department of Aboriginal Affairs said the work to remove the potentially deadly material in Beagle Bay was not a risk to the public.

“The contractor is a Restricted Asbestos Licence Holder and has advised the work being undertaken does not pose any risk.”

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Asbestos dust cloud threatens Beagle Bay school