$220,000 over asbestos-contaminated fill

$220,000 over asbestos-contaminated fill

A man has faced the Windsor Local Court to face charges brought by the NSW Environmental Protection Authority after he was found to have organised fill material, including asbestos waste, to be deposited on private property.

Michael Laird pleaded guilty to two charges of causing land pollution at the properties in Pitt Town.

The property owners engaged Laird to supply dirt to create building pads and to level a section of land for a retaining wall to be built. Instead of this, the material supplied contained construction waste, plastic fragments and asbestos.

When Hawkesbury City Council made an inspection of the two properties in July of 2017, they ordered work to be stopped when they observed bricks, concrete, fibro and glass in the material.

The EPA carried out a sampling of the material which showed widespread asbestos contamination. As a result, 1,351 tonnes of the contaminated fill had to be removed and the site cleaned.

Mr Laird faced court earlier this year to answer the charges. Magistrate L Robinson convicted him on both charges, and ordered him to pay more than $220,000.

The penalty included a fine of $28,000, payment of the cleanup costs, which amounted to more than $173,000 and investigative and legal fees of $20,000.

Greg Sheehy, EPA Director Major Compliance and Investigations, said the EPA prosecuted Mr Laird after a lengthy investigation.

“Fill may be free or cheap to bring on to a property, but if it is contaminated, the clean-up costs can be high – and the property owners can be left footing the removal bill as well as dealing with environmental pollution,” Mr Sheehy said.

“The EPA’s message is do not accept promises the fill will be clean. Make sure you check. Contaminated fill can contain anything from building waste to asbestos or chemicals and heavy metals that you do not want to expose your family to.”

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