Clean-up follows major Wickham fire
Our officers worked quickly with other agencies to respond and begin a clean up process following a major fire which destroyed the Wickham Wool Store building in Newcastle, in early March.
Scene following of Wickham Wool Store fire
During this major fire, the roof of the Wool Store building, which contained asbestos, was destroyed and blew debris over houses in nearby suburbs.
Director Regulatory Operations David Gathercole said that air monitors had been deployed across impacted suburbs following the fire which was helping to ease community concerns about potential asbestos air pollution.
“We understand resident’s concerns about asbestos debris from the fire,” David said.
“Public Works Advisory deployed specialist air monitoring equipment to register air particles, and we have been working closely with asbestos specialists and Fire and Rescue NSW to map and triage the impacts from asbestos contamination.
“Since the fire, more than 600 samples have been taken by the asbestos monitors and no airborne asbestos has been detected above the detection limit around the impacted suburbs,” David said.
“The rain since the fire has also helped by keeping the asbestos fibres damp.
“Fortunately, we were able to come onsite as soon as the area was made safe. We have been talking to community members over the weeks since the fires, attending two public meetings in March with around 150 locals attending each meeting, and organising drop in centres to answer individual questions.
“Locals have seen specialist asbestos assessors and cleaners working in the area as the clean-up of private homes continues.
“We are continuing to keep residents informed of the clean-up progress so that they can feel safe in their community.”
We are working closely with the City of Newcastle, Public Works Advisory, NSW Health and Safe Work, as well as Hazmat and Fire and Rescue, to provide support for the impacted community.
Air monitoring results
Air monitoring is being done daily in areas where asbestos removal is happening, around the demolition zone and at various locations. All air monitoring resultsto date have been below the limit of detection. Air monitoring will continue throughout the clean-up.
Snapshot of recovery
- More than 350 households have now been given the all clear to return home.
- Over 400 reports from residents have been made to the Environment Line.
- More than 90 independent clean-up personnel have been deployed to work in the area
- Soil sampling in impacted suburbs and Islington Park tested negative for the presence of asbestos.
- Demolition of the fire-affected Wool Store buildings is complete with waste removal in progress.
- Contractors are removing debris from the roof of the remaining Wool Store building on behalf of the building owner.
- Assessment, cleaning, and clearance of public spaces is largely complete including roads, footpaths, parks, and gardens.
General reporting of asbestos
If you do spot material that you suspect is asbestos or any other form of pollution, please contact our Environment Line to report the material. Phone 131 555 or email us at email@example.com