In 2007, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) (which was at the time within the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water) was made aware of several sites containing bulk asbestos waste associated with manufacturing and waste disposal by the former James Hardie Industries. The sites are in the Auburn, Fairfield, Holroyd, Liverpool, Parramatta and Wingecarribee local government areas and the Sydney Olympic Park Authority site.
To identify the location of the disposal sites, notices were issued to James Hardie Industries under Section 77 of the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997. Information was provided on 47 potential asbestos disposal sites and the EPA determined that 27 sites required inspection and assessment of the contamination.
Between December 2007 and February 2008, the EPA conducted site inspections of the 27 sites. Of these, 11 sites showed no visible signs of exposed asbestos and 18 sites had asbestos identified, generally in small amounts in bonded form (e.g. broken asbestos sheets). None of the inspected sites were found to be a “significant risk” to human health or the environment, provided the sites remained sealed and undisturbed.
Several options for management of the contamination were investigated and it was determined that the most effective option was for the EPA to support local government management of the sites by conducting assessments and preparing assessment reports for all accessible sites.
The EPA prepared draft asbestos assessment reports with input from all relevant stakeholders and forwarded them to the relevant councils and the Sydney Olympic Park Authority in October 2009. The reports included recommendations for management of the contamination which had in principle support from NSW Health via the Sydney West Area Health Service. The reports were then finalised into a summary project report in April 2010, and forwarded to the relevant councils and the Sydney Olympic Park Authority to assist in the maintenance of council records on past land use and to ensure the presence of asbestos on these sites is considered in future land use planning approvals for these sites.