Council removes asbestos from beaches

Central Coast Council has ramped up its inspections of Wamberal beach as material fragments which potentially contain asbestos continuing to be sighted following the major storm event in July which saw portions of waterfront homes topple onto the beach.

Council has retrieved more material fragments from Wamberal beach in the past month than it did during all of 2019, with residents regularly taking to Facebook to share pictures of suspected asbestos.

Council’s Manager of Environmental Management, Luke Sulkowski, said Council would inspect the beach daily to improve chances of removing all fragments that may deposit.

“In 2019 our beach inspection team removed just over 400 fragments that may contain asbestos from Wamberal Beach,” he said.

“In August alone we collected over 720 fragments, taking the 2020 total to more than 900.

“As a result, we have increased our beach inspections from 2-3 per week to daily to ensure we can collect as much as possible.

“The risk to public health is considered low due to the size and nature of the material and that it is bonded in sheet form; asbestos is dangerous only when broken up and fibres are released into the air.”

Council has been undertaking an ‘emu pick’ on the surface of the sand and is also conducting regular inspections on nearby Terrigal beach.

Mayor Lisa Matthews said it was important that the community stayed away from debris on the beach.

“I want to assure the community Council is prioritising the removal of material at the beaches,” Cr Matthews said.

“Trained Council staff are inspecting the beach daily and removing all the potential asbestos containing material they find.

“The identified risk to human health is low, however Council will continue to be vigilant to ensure the materials are removed quickly and we encourage the public to exercise caution.

“It is unfortunate that with situations like this, Council and the community are left to manage the legacy left by this material and its prevalent and ill-informed use in the past.”

Suspected asbestos containing materials should be referred to Council on 1300 463 954 or the EPA Pollution line on 131 555.

Terry Collins

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