Council tackles asbestos in St Marys and St Clair

The land at Chesham Street in St Marys. Photo: Megan Dunn.
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Contaminated land in St Clair and St Marys is set to be remediated after asbestos was discovered.

Penrith Council recently awarded a half a million dollar contract for the remediation of land between Luke’s Lane, Saunders Park and Cook and Banks Fields, St Clair.

It will also fork out $197,721.65 excluding GST to have a strategic parcel of land at 11-13 Chesham Street, St Marys treated with a view to selling the site.

Council staff become aware of asbestos within the Luke’s Lane, Saunders Park and Cook and Banks Fields area in 2019 and took immediate action to ensure the site was safe.

Asbestos contractors were engaged to remove all ground surface asbestos material and air monitoring was undertaken, concluding there was no risk of airborne asbestos to the community.

Council’s Director of City Services Brian Steffen ensured Councillors that residents have been kept protected since then.

“As soon as the asbestos was discovered there it was taped off, no access and a low geo-fabric layer was put over the site,” he said during last month’s Ordinary Council meeting.

“It has been fenced off until we could design the remediation plan and go out to tender.

“We did do letter box drops to the residents in the area and signage along the fences so people knew what was happening there.”

Mr Steffen wasn’t entirely sure if fibros cement sheeting was to blame, however suggested it was likely.

“What we have found when this has happened [is that] it has been old fibro, sometimes it’s soil containment in the soil as well as fibro, but when they are buried like this it is usually fibro,” he said.

In answer to a question raised by Councillor Greg Davies wondering if some of the problem had “escaped” the nearby former Telstra building, Mr Steffen said there was unfortunately no way to know.

“But at the time it would have been remediated at whatever standards were at the time,” he said, though Cr Davies expressed his doubts about this.

Meanwhile, Council has given the go ahead for land assembly and de-constraining activities to be undertaken at 11-13 Chesham Street in preparation for site divestment.

In 2017, Council identified the site as an “underutilised land asset with development potential”.

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