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Sydney residents are outraged over plans to dig up an asbestos ridden site in order to build a huge waste treatment plant. In the late 1990s the deadly effects of asbestos were fully realised so the owner of the site, James Hardie, tore down their buildings and built a concrete slap.
It has been five years since the asbestos-caused death of Bernie Banton, a former James Hardie employee who worked at the site. Residents are concerned and angry about the plans to dig up the contaminated site.
A German waste management and recycling company is looking to construct a commercial and industrial waste treatment facility where the James Hardie building was once located. However, residents are concerned that digging up the soil under the concrete slap will put their safety at risk since it is laced with asbestos. The site is located adjacent to a childcare centre.Residents have been adamant in their protest against the development, and their feelings that the government is putting corporate interests above public safety. Parents have since threatened to remove their children if the project proceeds.
Remondis has conceded that although the land had been cleaned up by Sydney Water, asbestos particles were still present in the ground. Mohan Selvaraj, a technical manager for Remonidis, said that the process will not include digging up the concrete slab except to provide sewage. Selvaraj said this part of the process will be monitored by Work Cover despite the ease to do it.
President of the Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia, Barry Robson, feels that the project is outrageous because any construction or vehicle is at risk of fracturing the concrete slap. Robson is concerned that a fifth wave of victims will occur.
NSW Planning Assessment Commission will make a decision regarding the project sometime after the public comment period closes on April 10.
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