Wollongong City Council wrote to residents before it undertook works to remove asbestos from a retaining wall repair site in Russell Vale on Wednesday.
The retaining wall repair job has been taking place near 620-638 Princes Hwy, with residents notified early last month about the work.
On Wednesday workers wearing protective suits and face masks were seen removing and bagging up asbestos.
One resident who drove past the site, opposite Terania St, said there was "a whole bunch of dust" around the site, and couldn't understand why pedestrians were able to walk close by.
"They're bagging it up, but they hadn't told anybody," he said. "There's guys in 'sperm suits', P2 masks - but there's members of the public walking by."
But the council had in fact notified residents that the asbestos was to be removed. It wasn't in the original works notice because the asbestos hadn't been found at that point. A second letter was sent out on June 5 with the asbestos notification.
"During the works some drainage pipes containing bonded asbestos were discovered at the base of the wall, the spokesman said. "An additional notice informing residents of the proposed asbestos removal was distributed last week.
"It is not uncommon to find material containing asbestos in ageing infrastructure during works in the city."
The spokesman said the material was removed by a professional, with water sprayed to minimise dust.
"Once the bonded asbestos was detected the principal contractor engaged an independent consultant to remove the affected drainage piping," he said.
"Cutting of the existing concrete kerb was required to enable removal of the drainage pipes.
"The piping was removed and bagged without breaking or cutting, minimising any dust. During the removal the contractor used different methods such as the application of a water solution and PVA spray to mitigate dust.
"All works were monitored by a qualified hygienist to ensure asbestos removal was undertaken in a safe manner."