ACT News

Up to 150,000 tonnes of asbestos waste headed to West Belconnen

From early next year the tip at West Belconnen will begin receiving up to 150,000 tonnes of contaminated material from Mr Fluffy asbestos homes.

Up to 150,000 tonnes of contaminated material from more than 1000 Mr Fluffy asbestos homes will be disposed of at the West Belconnen Resource Management Centre within the next five years despite concerns the capacity of the tip may delay action.

An Asbestos Response Taskforce spokeswoman said the northside tip was the only location in the ACT capable of disposing friable asbestos and privately demolished Mr Fluffy homes had been dumped there in previous years.

From early 2015, Mr Fluffy homes bought and demolished by the goverment will be dumped inside the West Belconnen tip, about 160 metres from the boundary and 1.2 kilometres from the nearest suburb, Macgregor. 

But Worksafe ACT commissioner Mark McCabe said the ability of the tip to store, process and dispose Mr Fluffy homes could be a determining factor  in how quickly the government's $1 billion buy-back and demolition program can be completed.  

"It remains to be seen what the actual capacity of West Belconnen centre is and that's going to be one of the key factors in how quickly this program can be rolled out," he said. 

"This really is a complicated project when you consider all the factors. They've not only got to get the materials in the gate but they've also got to store them safely."


But the taskforce spokeswoman insisted there was sufficient space at the tip to safely dispose of all Mr Fluffy homes in the ACT if required.

Andrew Defrandeschi, a spokesman for Mitchellbased AJD Civil and Demolition Contractors, said the average brick veneer house with three bedrooms would produce between 50 and 80 tonnes of rubbish.

But Workplace Safety and Industrial Relations Minister Simon Corbell said in June a standard three to four bedrooms home could generate up to 150 tonnes of waste, "even more depending on the level of contamination".

On Monday, Queanbeyan Mayor Tim Overall told the NSW Inquiry into Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation the estimated 60 Mr Fluffy homes in Queanbeyan would likely be added to the West Belconnen dump under a pre-existing arrangement with the ACT to dispose of town's asbestos and toxic waste. 

The owners of Mr Fluffy homes may also need to part with porous possessions, including carpets and curtains, lounges, bed linen, clothing, soft furnishings and even childrens toys.

Mr McCabe said there had not been too much detailed planning about the disposal of Mr Fluffy homes at West Belconnen beyond high-level talks.

"There will be a couple of controls in place, with the government tendering this work out to dedicated contractors and doing so with worksafe regulations in place, and we'll be making sure they comply with that," he said. 

The taskforce spokeswoman said the West Belconnen tip was already used to dispose of soil contaminated with bonded asbestos and  pipes and concrete containing asbestos and friable pipe-lagging.

Material from Mr Fluffy houses will be buried with at least 30 centimetres of soil on the same day it is deposited, covered with the next delivery of demolition material, and then finally capped with at least three metres of soil.

"Rubble will be disposed of under supervision of a licensed asbestos removalist and subject to dust suppression," said the taskforce spokeswoman. 

The decision the dump the Mr Fluffy homes at West Belconnen off Parkwood Road comes soon after the government was forced to reopen the tip when Mugga Lane reached capacity earlier than expected in September.

Since then, up to 100 trucks a day have been driving along Southern Cross Drive and Parkwood Road mainly between 11am and 5pm.

Mr McCabe said it was possible Mr Fluffy homes could be demolished and processed at the West Belconnen centre in early 2015. 

"The taskforce is talking about beginning the demolitions early next year and is hoping to have a fair number of houses bought back by the end of the year," he said. 

"As publicly advised, the demolition program could take up to five years," said the taskforce spokeswoman. 


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