Asbestos dumped in regional park highlights ongoing issues

Asbestos dumped in regional park highlights ongoing issues

Five piles of demolition waste have been uncovered in a regional park outside of Ballarat, and Parks Victoria has confirmed that the material contains asbestos.

An investigation has begun after several piles of asbestos and construction materials were found at Wookarung Regional Park. Those responsible can be prosecuted and fined thousands of dollars for illegally dumping waste, and asbestos-containing materials attract an even high rate for fines.

The illegal material was uncovered along Dozed Track and Boak Road within the park, and inspectors believe the dumping occurred around the 18th of February. The local council has established exclusion zones in the area, with hikers, motorcyclists, and cyclists urged to avoid the area.

Parks Victoria is calling on the public to contact them if they have any information about the dumped materials. The organisation noted that since the beginning of last year, they have attended and subsequently removed 169 illegal asbestos dumps throughout the state.

Parks Victoria acting area chief ranger Alex Schipperen explained that “dumped asbestos is, unfortunately, a common and major concern across well-loved parks and reserves in Victoria.”

He noted that the site’s clean-up at Wookarung would start along with other areas of concern but didn’t provide a definitive timeline.

“Removing waste is a significant expense for Parks Victoria, and it takes rangers away from what should be their core work — maintaining facilities and protecting plants [and] animals, and historical and cultural sites.

“It can also lead to the temporary closure of parts of a park for clean-up.”

Jeff Rootes, the secretary of the local environmental group Friends of the Canadian Corridor, urged greater educational focus in order to prevent the incidences from happening in the first place.

“Education is always the first point — getting people to realise the consequences,” he said. “There has been a lot of household rubbish — particularly this year — that has been dumped in Wookarung park. Stuff that is unhealthy.”

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