Clean up bill for illegally dumped asbestos tops $11M annually in Australia

Clean up bill for illegally dumped asbestos tops $11M annually in Australia

Despite being banned for almost two decades, it is estimated that the legacy of asbestos in Australia remains an active risk, with more than 6,000 tonnes dumped illegally every year across the country. According to government reports, it costs in excess of $11 million to clean up illegally dumped asbestos every year.

A new campaign by the federal government is urging both home renovators and tradespeople to make sure they abide by asbestos safety regulations when it comes to disposing and handling the material.

As part of National Asbestos Awareness Week, which runs until the 27th, small-scale construction and demolition operators are in the spotlight, with regulators reminding workers that the small sites can pose just as much risk as larger operations in terms of asbestos exposure. They reminded Australians that one in three buildings in the country contains asbestos, including homes.

In a survey conducted last year by the Asbestos Safety Eradication Agency, more than a third of people who encountered asbestos during a DIY project or home renovations admitted to disposing of it illegally. In most cases, respondents said they put the material in a household bin belonging to themselves or their neighbours.

“The people at greatest risk of exposure are those that work on older buildings and infrastructure where asbestos-containing materials are present,” Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency chief executive Justine Ross said.

“However, asbestos can also be found in unexpected places such as in the household garden, garage or storage areas.”

For DIY renovation jobs, it is highly recommended that the general public do not handle, remove or dispose of asbestos themselves. Many councils offer free asbestos testing and can also provide information on the best course of action for legal disposal. Outside of that, professional asbestos services are highly recommended, and members of the public are also reminded that heavy fines apply for asbestos disposed of in kerbside or skip bins, which is illegal.

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