Wamberal and Terrigal beaches’ asbestos issue badly handled

Exposed material on Wamberal Beach after the 2016 East Coast Low

Pat Aiken, of Coastal Residents Inc., believes that Central Coast Council has mismanaged the location of Asbestos Containing Material (ACM) at Wamberal and Terrigal beaches.
“In any other community, what would happen if a significant legacy dumping of asbestos containing material suddenly surfaced on a public beach?” Aiken asked.
“Immediately, there would be an army of emergency services together with police, the NSW Environment Protection Authority and of course, the local council,” he said.
“No doubt the mess would be immediately cleaned up and there would be a report from Council and the EPA telling everyone that the hazard had been removed and further tests will be undertaken to ensure that there is no lingering risk.
“The community would be protected.
“But not on Planet Central Coast.
“A large legacy dumping of ACM in the form of smashed pieces of corrugated asbestos cement roofing surfaced on Wamberal Beach in late 2017, following a major coastal erosion event that uncovered a range of environmentally inappropriate materials.
“Everything you can imagine, septic tanks, overhanging boulders, glass, steel reinforcement, concrete, car bodies, treated pine logs, complete concrete floors including attached mosaic tiles and, of course, a lot of ACM was exposed.
“Despite a complaint to the NSW EPA and assurances by Council that the problem would be fixed, the asbestos cement roofing is still there.
“Unfortunately for Central Coast Council, a confidential report that identified these major risks as a public health and safety issue surfaced in the public domain following over 18 months of public activism.
“Fighting and screaming all the way, Central Coast Council released the report that Council admits has high public interest.
“This was a report that contains the following words: asbestos (four times); recommended/recommend/recommendation (81 times); high risk (14 times); medium risk (five times); low risk (once); danger/dangerous (19 times); high priority (nine times); risk to life (once); risk to beach users (12 times).
“Despite the urgency of this report as an attempt to alert the Central Coast Council of the many urgent actions that it should take in the interest of public health and safety, very few of the required actions were actually carried out.
“In fact, despite the seriousness of the situation, Central Coast Council decided not to allow the public to see a copy of this report other than by applying in person to view a copy in its redacted form, under the watchful supervision of a council officer, for one hour.
“Central Coast Council has now attempted to defend the indefensible in a report to Council that leaves out the fact that Council got rid of a large legacy dumping of ACM on Wamberal Beach by burying it under a shallow layer of sand.
“It remains there today in a part of the beach known to be subjected to regular coastal erosion events.”

Media release, Jul 19
Pat Aiken, Coastal Residents Central Coast Inc

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