Significant coastal swells reveal asbestos

Significant coastal swells reveal asbestos

Coastal erosion is a common cause of asbestos being revealed in Australia, with beaches, break walls or other coastal areas often housing the material. On Bribie Island in Queensland, the channel break at the island has turned a deepwater passage into a series of sandbars and has revealed asbestos in the process.

The channel break is the result of significant swells experienced during ex-Tropical Cyclone Seth last year and has widened to a break almost a kilometre wide.

While the change in the landscape has affected locals, including coast guards and environmental groups, it is the loss of protection at nearby Golden Beach that is most concerning. The now-exposed coastline is being eroded by the more significant swells which have revealed asbestos along the beach.

Locals uncovered suspected asbestos-containing material at the foreshore last month and the council and state government closed sections of entry to the beach and erected fencing and warning signage.

The loss of landmass on Bribie has made the Golden Beach foreshore more vulnerable to swell and higher tides.
With the shoreline and parklands being eaten away, dangerous material has been unearthed.

The local authorities have explained that the closures and signage are a precaution and that the asbestos at the site is not considered a major public health issue.

However, some locals believe that that messaging has not been clearly communicated. One local told the ABC that “people were coming here getting scared, they saw yellow signs and it’s saying asbestos dust is in the air.”

Councillor for the area, Terry Landsbery, explained that the asbestos “is obviously moist and damp. The actual issue is if you breathe [the fibres] in, so it’s quite safe at this stage.”

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