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Asbestos

Asbestos is a commercial term commonly used to describe a naturally occurring mineral fibre found in Serpetinite rocks which exist in soils in the Port Macquarie-Hastings area. Asbestos can cause lung diseases, including cancer.

Activities such as excavation, road works, farming and quarrying have the potential to disturb naturally occurring asbestos and release fibres into the air. If naturally occurring asbestos is left untouched then there is minimal risk.

 View a map911KB pdf(PDF, 911KB) of current known locations of naturally occurring asbestos in Port Macquarie-Hastings.

Note: This map shows only known locations of asbestos in the area. Asbestos may occur in other locations of the Hastings area. 

Asbestos and your home

It’s estimated that one in 3 homes contains asbestos. If your home was built or renovated before 1990 then it’s likely to contain some type of asbestos building product. Asbestos products weren’t banned until 31st December 2003.

Asbestos was used to make building materials such as fibro which was widely used in the construction industry during the 1950s, '60s and '70s.  Since the mid 1970s the public was alerted to the dangers of asbestos. Asbestos use in domestic building materials was gradually phased out since the 1980’s but it wasn’t banned in Australia until 2003. Alternative products, such as fibreglass are now used.

Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause diseases. However, if in sound condition and left undisturbed, naturally occurring asbestos and fibro products are not a significant health risk and can be left in place. Health problems usually occur when people are unaware of the hazards of working with fibro or where naturally occurring asbestos is present.

It is illegal to import, store, supply, sell, install, use or re-use asbestos materials. The ban does not apply to asbestos installed in buildings prior to 31st December 2003 such as asbestos in homes.

Identifying Asbestos

Before renovating or planning to renovate you should have your house inspected for asbestos by a licensed asbestos removalist or an asbestos assessor. The only definitive way to tell if it is asbestos is through sample analysis under microscopic examination at a registered laboratory. Fibrous cement sheeting made with asbestos in the early 1980s looks the same as that made in the mid 1980s without asbestos. Vinyl tiles and sealants often require further testing using x-ray diffraction or scanning electron microscopy to confirm asbestos content.

It is hard to identify asbestos products in the home just by looking at them. Below is a diagram that shows the potential locations of asbestos products in the home if your home was built or renovated before 1990.

Identifying asberstos in the home 

Building demolitions and renovations containing Asbestos

Some types of building renovation, demolition work or earthworks require Council consent before work starts. Where asbestos material or naturally occurring asbestos is present, Council will place general conditions about safe work practices for asbestos on the consent requiring compliance with relevant  Australian Standards, Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and Guidelines.

Removing Asbestos

Homeowners can remove less than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos (eg fibro) that is in good condition and if you use the appropriate safety precautions. However, it is recommended that asbestos removal work be carried out by a licensed removalist. For amounts greater than 10 square metres, only licensed asbestos removalists can remove asbestos from your building. An asbestos removal licence is required to remove, repair or disturb material containing asbestos. There are two types of removal licences, Class A (Friable) and Class B (Bonded) issued by WorkCover NSW:

  • Class A (friable) asbestos removalist is licenced to remove, repair or disturb any amount of friable asbestos, such as fire damaged fibro houses, sprayed limpet, asbestos cloth, mill board and pipe lagging.
  • Class B (non-friable) asbestos removalist is licenced to remove, repair or disturb more than 10 square metres of bonded asbestos material such as fibro, corrugated cement sheeting and asbestos cement pipes.

Check with your builder to ensure they are licensed to dispose of asbestos. For advice about how to remove, handle and store bonded asbestos visit www.asbestosawareness.com.au.

Council's roles and responsibilities

Concerns or complaints regarding the presence of naturally occurring asbestos, the inappropriate handling of asbestos, dumping of material containing asbestos, or material containing asbestos at non-work sites can be referred to Council for investigation on 6581 8111. Council may authorise work to rectify any unsafe or unhealthy conditions or arrange for the material to be collected once it has been rendered safe to handle and disposed of at Council's waste disposal facility.

Generally where waste material containing asbestos is dumped or otherwise contained on private property, the material remains the responsibility of the property owner. Where a complaint is made to Council with respect to waste asbestos material on private property, Council may investigate the complaint and, if necessary, the property owner may be required to remove and safely dispose of the asbestos material.

Regulatory measures to ensure compliance

Rules and regulations apply to the removal of asbestos. Sites where work is being carried out by employees or a self employed person(s) are considered workplaces. Workplaces are regulated by WorkCover NSW. When Council becomes aware of non-compliance at work sites,Council officers will advise WorkCover. Council regulates asbestos removal work in the home and can request rectification work or that work be done in a safe manner.

Environmental Asbestos Guidelines

This Guideline was formulated to be consistent with Council’s legislative obligations and within the scope of Council’s powers. This Guideline should be read in conjunction with relevant legislation, NSW Guidelines and codes of practice. In the case of any discrepancies, the most recent legislation shall prevail.

This Guideline is based upon the Model Asbestos Policy for NSW Councils developed by the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities to promote a consistent Local Government approach to asbestos management across NSW.

 Download guidelines1MB pdf(PDF, 1MB)


 

This page was last updated on: 13 November 2018