The Beagle Editor, At a Village Centre feedback kiosk for the Batemans Bay Regional Aquatic, Arts and Leisure Centre early this year, Councillor Jack Tait told listeners that the former Bowlo was “full of asbestos”. This was by way of his attempt to retrospectively justify its demolition. Following on from the Beagle’s own article on 5 February, regarding the removal of asbestos-contaminated materials from that site, Our Towns Our Say (OTOS) asked Councillors the following questions at the Public Access session on 12 February: Q1. Did Council, as owner of the Club, ensure that it was fully briefed by RMS, contractors, Safe Work NSW or any other authorised agency, such as the EPA, on the potential health risks of disturbing and removing asbestos from an exposed public site? Q2. If Council did that, when did it occur and by whom? Q3. Did Council consider the need for a public awareness campaign to assure the community that potential risks had been properly mitigated, considering that the site sits smack-bang in the middle of Batemans Bay, on a main highway, with sports, leisure and business activities taking place daily, adjacent to the site? Q4. If not, why not? Q5. With the old Bowling Club site now dominated by a large, old concrete slab, can Council advise who will be responsible for its destruction and removal, once RMS is finished there and can Council advise if there will be any asbestos risk from that process? Q6. When may OTOS expect a response to its letter? On 21st February Council provided contact details for an RMS representative to whom OTOS queries could be directed. During our follow-up queries, an inspection tour of the site was also requested, so that the community could be reassured that all was well. On 20 March, the following response was received, apparently relayed from a John Holland representative: “Thank you for your recent enquiry in relation to the Batemans Bay Bridge replacement project. You requested a guided tour of the new project site compound in Batemans Bay and further information about asbestos identified and managed at the same location. We are unable to offer you a tour of the site compound, however, we can advise that Roads and Maritime started work building the new temporary site offices and Community Display Centre on the site of the former bowling club in late November 2018. This work was completed in February 2019 and included the demolition of the old building that contains some asbestos. Due to the age of the building, asbestos was expected and has been planned for and managed with suitable contractors and procedures in place. Safe Work NSW approved for the work to be carried out by the contractors and visited the site multiple times with no issues or concerns raised. Immediate neighbours were also notified about asbestos removal, in accordance with the requirements Section 3.5 of State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development) 2008 (the SEPP). A review of environmental factors was made available to the community on the project website, which looks at the environmental, visual and traffic changes caused by the demolition of the former bowling club site and construction of the temporary site offices. About 50 tonne of asbestos containing materials including sheeting, pipes and guttering, was removed from the building and former bowling greens. The contractor held all relevant demolition and asbestos removal licenses and all waste including asbestos has been disposed of correctly to licensed facilities in accordance with EPA guidelines and legislation. Roads and Maritime went above and beyond standard safety measures by conducting air monitoring on several occasions during the asbestos removal and demolition process with no positive results for airborne asbestos. Contractor John Holland water carts and sprinklers were on site at all times and were used as required to manage non-asbestos dust.” Readers may like to know that, for the second time, the SEPP has been referred to as the applicable policy document dealing with the removal of asbestos - the first time was in the original Beagle article of 5 February. Once again, a careful search of that policy document, currently published HERE, referred to in earlier telephone conversations and in the response above, has failed to reveal any mention of asbestos. The only reference to 3.5 is under Division 2 and that 3.5 deals with Complying development on flood control lots and not asbestos nor notification of neighbours! This begs the question therefore, has Council glibly abdicated its public health responsibilities in relation to the former Bowlo and is RMS and John Holland properly informed when it comes to removal of that environmental hazard? A more likely reference might be the NSW Government Work Cover “Guide for Applicants for Asbestos Removal and Asbestos Assessor Licences and Notification” - but that has not been mentioned in discussion to date. What is going on ? OTOS would be more than happy to be corrected or redirected on this important matter. John Mobbs Our Town Our Say
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