EPA welcomes asbestos expert's findings
Media release: 14 March 2013
The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) has today welcomed the report from independent health expert, Dr Tim Driscoll, which looks at the management of asbestos on the Barangaroo site in Sydney.
EPA Chair and CEO, Barry Buffier, said the report, The use of asbestos-contaminated soils on Barangaroo, outlined a number of recommendations about the most appropriate approach to managing asbestos fibro on the site and that the EPA accepts all of the findings in the report and its recommendations.
“The EPA engaged Dr Tim Driscoll, Associate Professor, Epidemiology and Occupational Medicine from the University of Sydney late last year to review the Barangaroo Delivery Authority’s (BDA) work plans and practices and assess whether or not material impacted by asbestos could be safely reused on the site.
“What today’s report has found is that reusing material impacted by asbestos is acceptable if the material is remediated appropriately” Mr Buffier said.
“What this means for Barangaroo is that all the material on site must meet soil remediation requirements of less than 0.001% of asbestos contained within the material and with all visible asbestos removed before it can be reused anywhere on the site.
“The report has also found that while the current risk of exposure to asbestos fibres was extremely low the site requires some further exposure controls and protection mechanisms to be implemented.
“The EPA and WorkCover NSW have already required continuous, systematic and extensive air monitoring to be in place since construction work began, this monitoring has not detected any airborne asbestos.”
Along with the findings Dr Driscoll’s report also outlined six recommendations, including:
That the pedestrian pathway adjacent to the northern zone be closed until all material potentially contaminated with asbestos has been remediated and used on site or transported off site.
That site safety committees be actively involved in the development of work plans to excavate, test, remediate, work with and/or disposing of material found to be, or suspected to be contaminated with asbestos.
The final work plans covering the excavation, testing, remediation, working with and/or disposing of material found to be, or suspected to be contaminated with asbestos be discussed with the EPA and Workcover NSW and approved by the site auditor.
The criteria for considering soil previously contaminated with asbestos to have been remediated be at least as stringent as those contained in the Western Australian guideline of:
- No fibrous asbestos
- Less than 0.001% asbestos / less than 0.006% asbestos containing material
- No visible asbestos
The air monitoring action level for asbestos on the Barangaroo site should be at 0.01fibres/ml, with 0.02 fibres/ml set as the level at which work on the site would cease, and;
That this report be made available to the BDA, workers on the Barangaroo site and their union representatives; Baulderstone; Lend Lease; the Ports Authority, their workers and the workers union representatives, Unions NSW and businesses and residents adjacent to the site.
“In response to recommendation one, even though Dr Driscoll has indicated that the potential for exposure to asbestos fibres is likely to be extremely low, the EPA and the BDA have agreed the rerouting of the northern pathway and a new route is now available for the public.
“Dr Driscoll has indicated that walkways adjacent to the southern and central areas are okay to remain open.
“The EPA welcomes these findings and the recommendations,” Mr Buffier said, “Once implemented they will ensure that Barangaroo has the most stringent conditions in Australia for remediating asbestos contaminated soils.”
“The EPA’s aim in engaging Dr Driscoll has always been to ensure that the safety of workers, residents, businesses and members of the public with regard to works on the Barangaroo site.
“This report provides us with a clear way forward and should go a long way towards providing workers and the public with additional reassurance about the work at the Barangaroo site.”
Dr Driscoll and the EPA today met with the Barangaroo Delivery Authority (BDA), contractors Lend Lease and Baulderstone, and Unions NSW to outline the findings in his report and will meet with residents and businesses shortly.
A full copy of the report is available on the EPA website – http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/clm/othercontamination.htm
Contact: Liza Cassidy
Page last updated: 14 March 2013