Asbestos Detected In Compost At NuGrow Ipswich

A small amount of asbestos has been detected in a compost stockpile at NuGrow Ipswich Pty Ltd’s site during a joint targeted inspection by the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation (DESI) and the Asbestos Safety Unit of Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ).

Twenty-three landfill operations, transfer stations, landscape suppliers, composters, and mulch suppliers across South East Queensland have been inspected as part of the joint operation, with only one positive result being received from the samples collected to date.

DESI is awaiting sampling and analysis results for approximately half of the sites inspected.

Out of an abundance of caution, action has been taken to impose requirements on NuGrow to protect health, safety, and the environment. This includes WHSQ prohibiting NuGrow from disturbing the contaminated stockpile, and DESI ordering NuGrow to take all reasonable and practical measures to prevent asbestos from being released into the air.

Asbestos presents a very low risk when undisturbed, and when preventative measures, such as those being imposed, are taken to prevent its release.

A full assessment and testing of stockpiles on the site is now required, and DESI will also be undertaking precautionary air quality testing in the area.

DESI is working closely with the West Moreton Public Health Unit and WHSQ to assess any risks to workers at the facility or the general public. We will immediately inform the community if any health risks are identified.

DESI has issued NuGrow with a precautionary emergency direction that:

  • requires NuGrow to immediately take action to prevent any release of asbestos to the air;
  • prohibits removing the material from the site unless it is being lawfully disposed or is certified by a qualified professional that it is asbestos free;
  • requires NuGrow to provide information on where material has been taken off site within the last 30 days and how the asbestos may have been bought onto the site; and
  • directs NuGrow to engage an appropriately qualified person with specialist knowledge in asbestos management to carry out an independent assessment of all material on site.

WSHQ has also issued a prohibition notice preventing the distribution of the contaminated materials.

Under NuGrow’s Environmental Authority, the acceptance of asbestos is prohibited.

Asbestos-contaminated waste is not authorised in any circumstance to be used in the manufacture of mulch, compost or any other products in Queensland and must be appropriately disposed of to landfill.

An emergency direction carries significant penalties if not complied with.

DESI has also expanded its inspection and sampling program to incorporate a selection of additional sites outside of South East Queensland.

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