Wollongong City Council is set to invite people to "dob in a dumper" via a new education guide, aimed at cutting down illegal asbestos dumping in the region.
During the last financial year alone, the council spent more than $62,000 disposing of illegally dumped asbestos - a figure Greens councillor Jill Merrin believes could be significantly reduced through better education and surveillance.
Last week, councillors unanimously endorsed plans to produce an educational guide to inform residents about asbestos removal including listing businesses offering professional disposal services.
Cr Merrin also put forward a motion, calling for a publicity campaign asking people to "dob in a dumper".
"I think people around Wollongong often suspect that someone is illegally dumping asbestos materials," she said.
"They might see trucks dumping things but don't know what to do - if we provide them with a hotline to call, it could definitely provide that extra level of surveillance."
A proposal to establish an asbestos disposal facility at Whytes Gully has also been moved forward after the council last week resolved to carry out a feasibility study to determine the cost and time required to set up the program. A report to council last week said there were "major practical considerations" for accepting asbestos at the Kembla Grange tip due to limited space and the need to isolate asbestos waste.
Cr Merrin said the report had also raised some community concerns.
"I've received emails from a couple of people in the Farmborough Heights area who are afraid of potentially being impacted by asbestos," she said.
"That's something the council would need to give some weight to - if Whytes Gully was to take asbestos, we'd need to look at airborne fibres and any health risks."
The council's debate is timely, given a study of 860 NSW residents, published yesterday, which showed 61 per cent who had recently completed a DIY renovation had been exposed to cancer-causing asbestos.
More than one in five said their children had been exposed, the Medical Journal of Australia study found.
"I think a lot of people are concerned about the effect of asbestos on our health," Cr Merrin said. "Wollongong has a lot of buildings and industrial sites in them so it's an ongoing threat; I think we're going to see another wave in about 40 years of people doing renovations on fibro homes and dealing with asbestos."