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OTOS: Practice Makes Perfect


The Beagle Editor, Our Towns Our Say still doing Council’s Homework Practice Makes Perfect ! The matter of asbestos removal from the former Bowling Club site may finally have been hosed down.Following an outburst by Councillor Jack Tait at one of Council’s Village Centre kiosks to present the three MacKay Park redevelopment concepts, OTOS became concerned about asbestos in and around the old Bowling Club Site. OTOS wrote to Councillor Innes on 4 February, asking a number of questions regarding the potential public health risks if asbestos had not been removed and handled in accordance with relevant measures, policies, protocols and guidelines. OTOS asked for a response within 7 days. One of the OTOS questions was as follows: “Q5. Do any such measures comply fully with the SafeWork NSW Code of Practice on How To Manage And Control Asbestos in the Workplace 2016, specifically Part 5, dealing with Demolition and Refurbishment Work?” Coincidentally, on 5 February The Beagle posted an article on the same subject, using information provided to it by the RMS that included the same reference. "Further background: Safe Work NSW approved the work being carried out and has visited the site multiple times with no 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. Roads and Maritime Services has conducted air monitoring on several occasions during the asbestos removal and demolition process with no positive results for airborne asbestos. Water carts and sprinklers were on site at all times and used as required to manage non-asbestos dust." Roads and Maritime Services spokesperson On 12 February, not having received a response from the Mayor as requested, John Mobbs addressed Council on behalf of OTOS, asking several questions, including: “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?” He drew Council’s attention to the fact that readers had been advised in The Beagle article, that on-site asbestos had been dealt with in accordance with Section 3.5 of State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development) 2008. He advised Council that this is not a section of that Policy dealing with asbestos and that it therefore cast doubt on whether or not the RMS/John Holland spokesperson knew his or her facts.It appeared that Council, having appointed contractors to demolish the Bowling Club, considered that it had shifted its responsibility for proper asbestos handling to the contractors and was therefore disinterested in the matter. OTOS continued to press for the correct information, by phone and email. On 20 March, Allison Hicks, John Holland’s Community Relations Manager for the Batemans Bay Bridge Replacement Project responded by reiterating previous advice, which OTOS believed to be erroneous, i.e.:“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).” On 4 April OTOS again queried the advice and requested [inter-alia] a site visit: “The local community group “Our Towns Our Say” (OTOS), under whose banner the request for a site inspection was also made, is perplexed by one particular detail of your response.The information you have again tendered does not accord with information found in the SEPP. There is no Section 3.5. The only reference to “3.5” in the SEPP is in relation to the treatment of flood control lots. Could you please explain how that is relevant? No reference to asbestos removal could be found in the SEPP. Does John Holland hold a different copy of that document? We have searched the current document published online by the NSW Government. Since the further removal or recycling of asbestos-contaminated material from the old Bowling Club site is likely to attract additional public scrutiny and reporting, I believe that you would be wise to consult with the appropriate engineering or environmental experts there, issue a corrective statement for public consumption and put the matter to rest. I am sure that The Beagle would be pleased to publish a brief article to amend the public record –and give you credit for having done so. This will be important, if John Holland is to complete this wonderful project with full support from the Batemans Bay community.” OTOS reminded Allison Hicks of the information request again, on 17th April. Finally, on 3 May, OTOS received the following response. Readers will note the correction: “Roads and Maritime started work building the new temporary site offices and community information centre on the site of the former bowling club in late November 2018. This work was complete 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 of Section 1.1 and Appendix A of the SafeWork NSW Code of Practice How to Safely Remove Asbestos (2016). Please see the Code of Practice attached. 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. Water carts and sprinklers were on site at all times and used as required to manage non-asbestos dust.” Allison Hicks also went to the trouble of telephoning an OTOS member at home before emailing the above response. She left a message to explain how there had been confusion amongst John Holland’s subject experts on this matter and she personally apologised for the errors. Notwithstanding the fact that John Holland has now realised and corrected erroneous information first made available to the public on 5 February 2019 being: Further background: Safe Work NSW approved the work being carried out and has visited the site multiple times with no 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. Roads and Maritime Services has conducted air monitoring on several occasions during the asbestos removal and demolition process with no positive results for airborne asbestos. Water carts and sprinklers were on site at all times and used as required to manage non-asbestos dust., why did no-one from Council (for instance; the MacKay Park Project Manager) scrutinise or question what had been published and why did no-one from Council (for instance; Councillor Innes) react to ensure that the community was properly and accurately informed? So there you have it. Everything done by the book, albeit a different one! It’s about time Councillors started doing their own homework – they are being paid to do so. Our Towns Our Say EDITOR: The images below have been sent in by a reader in relation to where the Bowling Club rubble has been going. The contributor wrote "on Friday I saw two trucks exit the bowling site and head north across the bridge. Today I have taken some photos of some of the rubble on the Bowlo site and rubble that has been dumped opposite the Bay Waters on Highcliff Road. Can you find out from the RMS if this is clean rubble and not contaminated rubble with any asbestos dust ?" Name and address supplied





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