5 Sep / 2014

Brickworks asbestos remediation briefing

On Wednesday, 3 September ACT Government representatives and consultants gave a briefing on plans for asbestos remediation works associated with the Brickworks. About 150 residents attended the public meeting, at Albert Hall.

Key points from the government and consultants:

  • Work is to begin by the end of September 2014 on a specific area at the rear of the Brickworks which is identified as an asbestos dump.
  • It is believed that most or all of the dumped asbestos is “bonded” asbestos – ie. as a 3-4% component of building materials such as fibro-cement sheeting, roofing, pipes etc.
  • Stage 1 of the task is to remove all surface debris and vegetation from the area and drill down to investigate the content and depth of the dump.
  • Stage 1 is expected to produce about 10 truckloads of debris, including asbestos, which will be taken to Mugga Lane tip for disposal. (NB these trucks are likely to pass through Deakin and Forrest via Hopetoun Circuit or other residential streets en route to Mugga Way and Hindmarsh Drive, being the most direct route to Mugga Lane)
  • The safety protocols and procedures will be the ones used currently for fibro house demolitions throughout Canberra and for land remediation at the Molonglo and Campbell (Constitution Ave) dump sites.
  • A 10-metre isolation zone will be fenced off around any work in progress, and all excavation will be done with potential dust wetted down.
  • “Mr Fluffy” type contamination is not anticipated, but if found will be handled accordingly with higher levels of precaution.
  • As well as the contracted environmental consultant there will be a separate independent auditor regularly checking safety procedures and measurements.
  • Stage 2 will involve removing all contaminated soil from the site, to an estimated depth of about 3 metres, trucking the contaminated soil to West Belconnen, then backfilling the Brickworks site wtih clean fill.
  • Details on the scope and protocols of Stage 2 will depend on the results of investigations in Stage 1.

Key concerns of residents:

Residents raised many concerns about safety issues, and about uncertainty over the full scope of movement of contaminated soils and materials near and through residential areas.

  • What about the many other possible contaminated sites within the Brickworks and the adjoining proposed development zones, for which no remediation plan has been put forward?
  • How can dust suppression be guaranteed on a site that is chronically windy, with prevailing winds blowing toward adjoining residences?
  • How can the independence of the auditor be guaranteed when all parties concerned are, in the end, working for the government that wishes to prepare the land for sale or development?
  • How can residential streets be protected from the large-scale heavy truck traffic, carrying contaminated loads, especially in Stage 2?

A motion demanding adequate consultation and information for residents was passed unaminmously. (See website of the Yarralumla Residents’ Association).