Kangaroo Island waste not responsible for mainland asbestos contamination

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Kangaroo Island has been ruled out as the source of asbestos that has contaminated recycled road base material on the mainland.

In March 2021, the Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority discovered a quantity of bonded asbestos within the stockpile of recycled road base material at the Goolwa Waste and Recycling Depot.

This material has also inadvertently gone out to use in private properties across the Fleurieu region and now has to be removed by the authority.

GOSSELANDS: The waste pit and rehabilitated area is just to the west of the Western Districts oval in the Gosselands scrub. Photo: Stan Gorton

GOSSELANDS: The waste pit and rehabilitated area is just to the west of the Western Districts oval in the Gosselands scrub. Photo: Stan Gorton

FRWA executive officer Simon Grenfell said the good news was that all waste from the 2019/2020 Kangaroo Island bushfires had been now been dealt with.

Any asbestos-contaminated waste was buried at the special Gosse disposal site, while recyclable material such as metals were sent to the mainland, he said.

"FRWA still have a stockpile of shredded timber at the KI Resource Recovery Centre, which we are gradually composting and selling to the community," he said.

The KI Landscape Board also recently completed the revegetation of the Gosselands Pit where all the fire waste was disposed of.

RECYCLING CONCRETE: Waste concrete and masonry products at the Goolwa facility that the Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority crushes to produce road rubble. Photo supplied

RECYCLING CONCRETE: Waste concrete and masonry products at the Goolwa facility that the Fleurieu Regional Waste Authority crushes to produce road rubble. Photo supplied

Back on the mainland, Mr Grenfell said 120 properties had currently registered with FRWA as having asbestos contaminated crushed rock.

One property has to have 300 tonnes of asbestos contaminated rubble removed.

Business Victor Harbor chairperson Michael Schubert said the scale of the contamination "could potentially be a huge problem on the Fleurieu".

Under its charter, FRWA is responsible for providing and operating waste management services on behalf of the four constituent councils - Victor Harbor, Alexandrina, Yankalilla and Kangaroo Island.

The cost to remove the contaminated material at the properties could "potentially be in the hundreds and thousands of dollars", according to Mr Schubert, and it's unknown whether the councils will wear the cost.

FRWA meanwhile has implemented its plan to deal with the contamination.

"We are currently working through this with our insurers," Mr Grenfell said.

"FRWA are engaging qualified asbestos removal contractors to remove the material.

"The contractors will be supervised by independent environmental consultants who sign off that all of the material has been removed and that the site is safe.

"The cost of the removal and remediation of affected properties and who will pay for the remediation is yet to be determined."

FRWA is also working with the EPA and its consultants and contractors to remove and remediate the properties as quickly as possible.

"Unfortunately due to the nature of the material this will take some time," Mr Grenfell said.

FRWA now have strict acceptance protocol and procedures for materials being recycled.

All recycled material will have to undergo an extensive testing procedure prior to being sold to ensure it is safe and suitable for its intended use.

Further information, including how to manage asbestos contaminated material, can be found on the FRWA website www.frwa.com.au

Mr Grenfell said the contamination happened as part of the authority's resource recovery activities where it aggregates waste concrete, tiles, bricks and inert material and crush this to produce a road rubble for sale back to the community.

"The presence of asbestos would demonstrate that customers have inadvertently included a small amount of asbestos in the loads of waste concrete that has been taken to the waste and recycling depot," he said.

"The environmental consultants estimate that the contamination is as little as 50 kilograms in a 4500 tonne stockpile of rubble."

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