Dundas Valley: Asbestos found at Ponds Creek Reserve walking trail

Asbestos has been found on a popular walking trail in Sydney’s north west, with the contaminated soil being closed off as a local council works to remediate the asbestos-riddled site.

Asbestos testing was carried out at Ponds Creek Reserve in Dundas Valley in November 2018 after the area was identified as one of several possible waste sites for building company James Hardie Industries 40-50 years ago.

Last April, test results came back to council with asbestos material confirmed at the site yet it has taken until now for long-term works to remediate the site to start.

A Parramatta Council spokeswoman confirmed the “asbestos material” was found buried beneath the walking track, near the David St entrance, at Ponds Creek Reserve in a report submitted to council in April 2019.

“Laboratory analysis of the samples collected found that materials containing asbestos, such as fibro, were present below the surface at various depths in a number of test locations across the site,” she added.

She claimed asbestos materials buried beneath grassed surfaces or soil posed a “low risk” to public health unless it was disturbed.
When asked why it took more than 15 months for remediation works to start, the council said precautionary measures have taken place including blocking off areas to the public and applying mulch to affected areas.

“To ensure the public’s safety at any potentially contaminated site, council takes precautionary measures – including temporary closures, where appropriate – before undertaking scoping work for the long-term remediation of a site,” the spokeswoman said.

“Areas within the reserve, including the trail, are currently closed to the public while remediation works are underway,” she added.

“A detour is in place directing the community to use Yates Ave while work on the Ponds Walk takes place.”

Asbestos is extremely fibrous and the inhalation of airborne asbestos fibres can cause significant health risks including lung cancer.

The walking track is one of many sites in Parramatta LGA found with asbestos dumped by James Hardie Industries.

The council’s major remediation works were first set to start in late June yet have since been delayed.

Works will include a physical capping layer followed by turf and mulch and a new concrete pathway along the Ponds Walk between David St and Evans Rd will be added on top.

“Council’s primary concern is the health and wellbeing of residents, park users and staff working in its parks,” the spokeswoman said.

“City of Parramatta will continue to take proactive action to address all identified and potential asbestos-related issues.”

Asbestos air-quality monitoring will also be taken during and after the construction process.

Works are expected to start in late July.

Article originally appeared in Northern District Times.

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