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Court orders residential asbestos clean up

Published: 11 April 2016

Court orders residential asbestos clean up

The Beenleigh Magistrates Court has issued a warrant enabling council to engage contractors to decontaminate a suburban residential property and surrounding area after a DIY project went horribly wrong.

A homeowner, unaware that their roofing was asbestos sheeting, used a high pressure water sprayer to clean their roof prior to painting.

This dislodged asbestos fibres, which contaminated the dwelling, driveway, lawn and gardens of the property and part of the lawn and driveway of an adjoining property, present a danger to public health.

Health, Environment and Sustainability Committee Chairperson, Cr Lisa Bradley, said the warrant allowed council to move swiftly to contain the problem, require the resident and their family to move out of their house and for council to manage the professional decontamination of the site and neighbouring properties.

“This homeowner has unfortunately placed themselves and their family in danger and the council has had to step in to safely contain the situation,” she said.

“The contamination represented a serious health risk to the family and will require a significant clean-up effort – for which the homeowner is liable.

“It’s a reminder to all homeowners, particularly for people in homes built before 1990, that their houses may contain asbestos - the best approach is to not disturb asbestos around the home.

“However if work is to be conducted, there are strict requirements on how this is to be done, and in some cases can only be managed by a licensed professional.

“If residents are concerned they can contact Council staff for property histories and advice on what to look for around their house.”

The homeowner has been cooperating with council and the family has obtained temporary accommodation with relatives.

A temporary fence has been erected around the property and an occupational hygienist will monitor air quality at and around the property.

Council staff have doorknocked surrounding houses to ensure neighbours are informed of the incident, as well as reassured that all steps are being taken to contain and remediate the site.

The incident was reported by a neighbour and upon inspection, council immediately issued a stop work notice.

As the property owner did not have the capacity (either practical knowledge or finances) to engage asbestos removalist to decontaminate the site, council obtained the necessary warrant to oversee the decontamination.

Under the Public Health Regulation 2005, friable asbestos removal is only permitted to be undertaken by a class A licensed removalist who is licensed and regulated under the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011.

Relevant state government agencies have been informed and are providing assistance.