ILLEGAL: Lismore City Council officers found these dumped packages, containing asbestos, at the quarry on Gwynne Rd.
ILLEGAL: Lismore City Council officers found these dumped packages, containing asbestos, at the quarry on Gwynne Rd. Contributed

Asbestos dumpings happening more often, council officer says

POTENTIALLY deadly asbestos is being illegally dumped at an increasing rate, Lismore City Council environmental compliance officer Stuart Thomson said.

One of the most recent cases involved several bags of asbestos being dumped at the Jiggi quarry on Gwynne Rd.

Mr Thomson said given the affordability of safely disposing of asbestos at the tip, there was no justification for illegal dumping.

"It's getting more and more common," he said. "And there's an awful lot that we don't know about that's either been buried off site or we just haven't come across it."

Anyone who comes in contact with dumped asbestos risks inhaling asbestos fibres which can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Mr Thomson said the asbestos found at Jiggi was fibro sheeting - one of the worst kinds of asbestos - most likely from an old kitchen or bathroom that's undergone renovations.

He said asbestos costs about $300 a tonne to dispose of at the tip and the average bathroom or kitchen weighs between 100-200kg.

This means the average costs of asbestos disposal after a renovation is between $30 and $60.

Mr Thomson said illegally dumping asbestos was dangerous not only for the culprit, but also for council and tip staff who were called to investigate, passers-by or children who may stumble on the dumped asbestos.

"With any asbestos it can be fatal," he said. "People can be exposed to sheeting all their lives and not suffer any consequences and then another person may handle it once or twice and that's it."

Mr Thomson said the process of taking asbestos to the tip was simple, cheap and easy.

"Tip staff are really good, they're helpful, they'll hand out gloves and masks, overalls, they just want people to do the right thing," he said.

"The cost isn't as much as what people may think."


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