Asbestos clean-up begins

UPDATE: Davcom guilty, fined $20,000

THE clean-up has begun of asbestos dumped by sub-contractors in Ballarat working on remediating Telstra ducts and pits in preparation for the National Broadband Network.

A number of examples of improper disposal of dangerous asbestos revealed over the past week were yesterday in the process of being taken away.

Despite assurances from Telstra contractor Visionstream that disposal was correctly handled, workers in protective suits yesterday cleaned up a skip bin full of up to 60 bags of asbestos in Sebastopol.

Hertford Street car yard owner Gary Day said the skip containing deadly asbestos fibres was removed yesterday afternoon.

“They were all here in their you-beaut white spacesuits, there were guys out there everywhere,” Mr Day said.

Earlier this week, The Courier revealed that a property at the rear of Mr Day’s car yard was one of a number of areas where asbestos had been left uncovered by Telstra sub-contractors.

Mr Day believed the unsecured haul had been sitting there for weeks after being left by workers for Telstra sub-contractor Davcom.

A skip full of asbestos bags on Melbourne Road has also been removed from its location at the front of a sheet metal business.

The yard belonged to ABC Civil Group, a former sub-contractor for NBN Co Victorian contractor Transfield.

Telstra confirmed that Visionstream was responsible for organising the clean-up.

Both skips were left uncovered and contained bags that had aged from exposure to the weather.

Residents have also noticed efforts to clean up around the city.

On Monday, Webster Street’s Ray Borowiak found two pieces of asbestos within back-filled soil surrounding a Telstra pit on the nature strip outside his home.

Mr Borowiak said he was concerned workers remediating the pits had not taken away all broken asbestos pieces and had filled in the dug-out areas with the fibrous material.

After his story appeared in yesterday’s edition of The Courier, Mr Borowiak noticed a man walking around his neighbourhood checking for any residual pieces of asbestos around street-side pits owned by Telstra.

He said a piece he noticed embedded into the soil on Monday had been removed by this man, who used a long metallic tool to lift the pit lids.

Social media users have reported people arriving in protective clothing to clean up asbestos, as well as more cases of potentially unsafe dumping of white bags containing the material.

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Asbestos that was dumped in a skip in Hertford Street, Sebastopol, has been removed.

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