Update on investigation into asbestos in mulch

Further inspections and tests will be conducted by the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) this week as the investigation into mulch that contained bonded asbestos at Rozelle Parklands and Transport for NSW infrastructure sites continues.

Soon after we were alerted to the contamination on 10 January 2024, we established a dedicated team of around 40 people. A deployment pool of another 70 EPA staff has now been added to the team.

NSW EPA Chief Executive Officer, Tony Chappel said the EPA is assessing multiple lines of inquiry and at this stage unable to rule in or out any potential sources for this contamination.

“Our officers have been out conducting inspections and sampling at sites across Sydney, which include the Rozelle Parklands, St Peters Interchange, Sydenham to Bankstown Rail corridor, Prospect Highway, Regatta Park, the mulch supplier and a landscaper premises,” Mr Chappel said.

“We are testing daily and to date around 75 tests have been conducted, with ten returning a positive result for asbestos.”

All positive detections are of non-friable or bonded asbestos, which NSW Health advises is low risk to people’s health.

At this stage, contamination of bonded asbestos in mulch has only been linked to one supplier.

That supplier was issued a Prevention Notice, which stops it from selling the product. This was then followed by a Clean-Up Notice, directing the supplier to notify all customers who received the identified mulch. Those customers are encouraged to contact the EPA’s Environment Line with any concerns.

Clean-Up Notices have also been issued to Sydney Metro and Transport for NSW, requiring them to clear all recycled mulch from Rozelle Parklands by 29 February 2024. Additionally, they need to develop asbestos management plans for sites not accessible to the general public.

Mr Chappel thanked the community for their patience as the complex investigation continues.

“Finding any asbestos is concerning and we are working as quickly as possible to get to the bottom of this situation.

“We encourage anyone who has concerns about mulch they’ve recently received to contact the EPA Environment Line.”

For more information on the EPA’s investigation at Rozelle Parklands and other TfNSW infrastructure sites visit Update on investigation into asbestos in mulch.

The EPA Environment Line can be contacted via email info@epa.nsw.gov.au or 131 555. The most recent Clean Up Notices are available here.