The first property to test positive for loose-fill asbestos as part of the NSW government's free testing program has been identified.
The property is located within the Berrigan Shire Council area, an agricultural area in the southern Riverina – halfway between Albury and Echuca.
It is the first home to provide a positive result since the NSW government began offering free voluntary roof insulation testing in August last year. So far, 630 tests across the state have been completed. The Berrigan property brings to 58 the number of NSW homes found to contain loose-fill asbestos. These include 14 houses and one block of 38 units in Queanbeyan, a home in the Yass Valley, one in Bungendore, one in Lithgow, one in Parramatta and one in Manly.
Three other affected homes have been demolished. All those properties were identified via historical records, prior to the positive Berrigan test.
Last August the Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers to conduct an independent investigation into the number of NSW properties affected by loose-fill asbestos supplied by two known companies, the ACT's Mr Fluffy and a second contractor Bowsers Asphalt, which was targeting large non-residential buildings in NSW.
A spokesman for the NSW government said a technical assessment would now be conducted on the positive asbestos sample to try and determine its origin.
A total of 1752 properties across 26 NSW Local Government Areas have registered for the free testing program which will run until August.
The newly discovered home will also be subject to an asbestos assessment to advise owners whether the living spaces are adequately sealed and whether "asbestos pathways (are) appropriately controlled".
The Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities said "testing of homes with loose-fill asbestos insulation has shown that exposure is likely to be very low if the asbestos is undisturbed and remains sealed off at all points where entry of asbestos into living areas can occur, including cornices, architraves, around vents, light fittings, manholes and the tops of cupboards."
NSW residents who are living in homes built before 1980 can register online or call Service NSW to see if they are eligible to have their property tested.
In December, the NSW government announced an inquiry into the potential demolition of loose asbestos-affected homes, in line with action taken by the ACT government.
NSW Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet also announced a financial assistance package for NSW residents who were confirmed to have Mr Fluffy in their homes, providing the same levels of assistance as in the ACT.