500 sites at Calderwood affected by asbestos issue

Clean-up: This aerial photo shows some of the areas contaminated with asbestos material at Calderwood, including stockpiles on properties. Picture: DAVID ROZADILLA.
Clean-up: This aerial photo shows some of the areas contaminated with asbestos material at Calderwood, including stockpiles on properties. Picture: DAVID ROZADILLA.

About 500 home sites could be affected by asbestos contamination or delays at the Calderwood development after the Environment Protection Authority revealed it was investigating 7,500 tonnes of contaminated material in the region.

Work has shut down at the affected part of Lend Lease’s Calderwood Valley project following a clean-up order from the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) over part of the estate’s Stage 2.

The asbestos was found in aggregate used in retaining walls and delivered by contractor Wollongong Recycling – which has been ordered to clean up the contaminated material.

The problem may reach further, with thousands of tonnes of contaminated aggregate now in question, an EPA spokeswoman said.

“The EPA is investigating the supply of around 7,500 tonnes of recovered aggregate supplied by Wollongong Recycling,” she said.

Swept under: Some of the material believed to be contaminated can be seen coming out from under the plastic covers at Calderwood. Picture: DAVID ROZADILLA.

Swept under: Some of the material believed to be contaminated can be seen coming out from under the plastic covers at Calderwood. Picture: DAVID ROZADILLA.

“This includes approximately 3,300 tonnes supplied to Calderwood Estate.”

The EPA has now called on anyone who purchased aggregate from Wollongong Recycling at Kembla Grange between June 1 and August 3 to contact it on 131555 so officers can investigate.

Lend Lease has written to property owners advising settlement of their purchases will now be pushed back to December.

A Lend Lease spokeswoman confirmed the scale of the problem, which will also delay the release of Stage 2B.

“The asbestos containing material is isolated to areas in Stage 2 only, which has approximately 500 lots,” a spokeswoman said.

“We are working with the NSW EPA and our contractor to clean up the site as soon as possible … We have received expert advice that there is no risk to the surrounding environment, including the neighbouring residents. The material is contained, and as an additional measure, we have installed air monitoring devices throughout the Calderwood Valley site.”

The EPA’s clean-up notice said asbestos had been detected at Calderwood in both bonded (solid) and friable (small particles) form. Friable asbestos is a toxic threat.

The Wollongong Recycling operation, on Wyllie Rd, Kembla Grange, is owned by Sydney bin behemoth Bingo, which bought it from the Helensburgh-based Blackwell family earlier this year.

Bingo told the Mercury last week that the material “relates to a period shortly after” it bought the Kembla Grange facility.

“The material in question was quickly identified and quarantined,” a spokesman said. “The company is working closely with the EPA and steps are being taken, including with the co-operation of all affected parties, to comply with the EPA notice.”

For more information on asbestos and mesothelioma see the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance website.