Shock find: Truckload of hazardous asbestos dumped
CARELESS environmental vandals have dumped a tip truck load of hazardous asbestos sheeting down a drainage gully in a shocking example of illegal dumping in the Tweed.
Breathing in asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer and the risks increase with the number of fibres inhaled.
Fire and Rescue NSW Kingscliff said firefighters and hazmat workers from Kingscliff, Murwillumbah and Tweed Heads spent seven "gruelling" hours cleaning up the dangerous mess after it was uncovered on Friday.
Photos of the mess on Facebook show asbestos strewn through bushland by the side of Cranneys Road at North Tumbulgum.
The fire station is urging anyone who knows more about the origins of the dumped asbestos to get in touch with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
"On arrival crews found what looked to be a tipper truck equivalent load of asbestos sheeting dumped down a drainage gully," the statement read.
"Once positively identified crews carried out a risk assessment of the scene and agreed it was too late to get to work to render the area safe on the Friday as the daylight was running out.
"Due to the very steep incline, crews started with digging a safe trail for access to the bottom of the gully to access the sheeting. Disposable suits, gloves, masks and safety glasses were all donned and crews got to work wetting down and bagging the asbestos rendering it safe.
"In total, crews spent over seven hours at this site over the two days.
"It was challenging and gruelling work by all involved, however, everyone got in and got the job done safely and effectively."
The fire station warned of the health risk to humans from asbestos dumping and added there was "massive effects on the environment in which it is dumped".
Asbestosis is a chronic chest disease which can develop decades after initial exposure, when lung tissue hardens and scars. Symptoms include persistent coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath, phlegm, lung infections, pulmonary hypertension and heart failure.
Asbestos was previously used in cement sheeting (fibro), drainage and flue pipes, roofing, guttering and flexible building boards.
The illegal dumping of materials including asbestos prompted Tweed Shire Council to warn last year that naming and shaming perpetrators was under consideration.
That has not yet occurred.
The EPA warns asbestos dumpers can face penalties of up to $5 million or seven years jail.
Originally published as Shock find: Truckload of hazardous asbestos dumped