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Burning rubbish found on road likely contains asbestos

An "agency command team" will lead the EPA's response to potential asbestos contamination in mulch.

An "agency command team" will lead the EPA's response to potential asbestos contamination in mulch. Photo: AAP

Burning rubbish suspected of being contaminated with potentially deadly asbestos has been found dumped on a roadside in Sydney.

The pile was found about 11pm on Monday on a back road in Rossmore, on Sydney’s southwestern fringe.

NSW Police, firefighters and the local council were involved in the clean-up of the site, which was about a 15-minute drive from two asbestos-accepting tips.

The discovery comes less than a week after laws doubling most pollution fines and strengthening the power of the state environmental regulator came into effect.

Companies guilty of wilful waste disposal that harms the environment can now be fined up to $10 million, while the unlawful disposal of asbestos carries fines of up to $4 million.

Individuals can also be fined up to $2 million and $1 million, respectively, for the two offences.

Rossmore is a short distance from the epicentre of Sydney’s asbestos-contaminated mulch saga, which sparked school and park closures and a festival to be cancelled.

Bonded asbestos – which is considered low-risk, unless fibres are released into the air because of damage or bad weather – was found in recycled mulch at more than 70 sites after a child found the material in an inner Sydney park in early January.

All detections have been traced back to a Bringelly facility operated by Greenlife Resource Recovery, which has been banned from producing more of the mulch.

Greenlife denies responsibility and is contesting the production ban in court.

There is no suggestion Greenlife is linked to the Rossmore incident.

Melbourne is in the grips of its own contaminated mulch crisis after asbestos was found in several parks in the city’s west and north.

The contaminant may have been introduced in the supply chain, Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority said on Monday.

– AAP

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