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Schools, hospitals await results as more asbestos found

Penalties for environmental crimes in NSW will double in the wake of Sydney's asbestos saga.

Penalties for environmental crimes in NSW will double in the wake of Sydney's asbestos saga. Photo: AAP

Six more sites across NSW have been confirmed contaminated with asbestos as two more schools await results and hospitals are tested.

One sample confirmed the more dangerous friable asbestos as well as bonded asbestos in mulch at Bicentennial Park on the Glebe foreshore in inner Sydney, which was previously found at another park at Surry Hills.

The local council advised the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the area has been fenced off and the agency is awaiting detailed results, the EPA said in a statement on Tuesday.

St Benedict’s Catholic College and St Justin’s Catholic Parish Primary School at Oran Park in the city’s west are undergoing precautionary tests after bonded asbestos was confirmed in mulch at the nearby St Mary Mackillop Catholic Parish.

“Mulch has only been identified on Parish property, but precautionary testing will be done at both schools,” the EPA said.

Precautionary tests are also being conducted at Westmead, Sydney Children’s, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai and Nepean Hospitals.

A private aged care facility at St Ives and an industrial area at Rouse Hill were also secured after positive results.

In Sydney’s south, North Rosebery Park at Rosebery has been confirmed contaminated.

Another detection was confirmed on a private property, bringing the total to 47 sites since bonded asbestos was detected in mulch at the recently opened Rozelle Parklands in January.

Sydney’s asbestos-mulch scandal has spread to Canberra with the potentially contaminated product sold over nine months in the capital.

An ACT landscaping business will continue contacting customers this week after the product sold as “cottage mulch” was confirmed to have originated at Sydney’s Greenlife Resource Recovery.

More than 40 sites that used Greenlife’s product, including schools and supermarkets, have had bonded asbestos uncovered in their mulch.

Some 24 companies and 27 addresses in and around Canberra bought the product from ACT landscaping supply company Stonehenge Beltana between March and November 2023.

The ACT Environment Protection Authority said it had acted to prevent further sale.

No positive results have been reported in the ACT.

The NSW EPA’s criminal investigation of the complicated supply chain is ongoing.

Agency chief Tony Chappel has cautioned against prematurely attributing blame.

Greenlife is challenging a prevention order in court and said its mulch is independently tested by approved laboratories and the company was confident it left its facility free of contamination.

– AAP

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