Surfside stormwater pipes low asbestos risk

Stormwater pipes exposed at the northern end of Surfside beach have been deemed low risk by an asbestos specialist.

Long-term coastal erosion and more recent storm swells exposed the pipes and concrete slabs, with Eurobodalla Council committing to fix the problem following a community meeting in January.

Tests revealed the pipes contain asbestos, prompting Council to temporarily cordon off the northern end of the beach as a safety measure.

Council’s infrastructure director Graham Attenborough said it was not unusual for pipes to contain asbestos, however, given the pipes are uncovered on a local beach, Council engaged an asbestos specialist to conduct a risk assessment.

“The findings indicated a low risk, and the recommendations were to restrict public access and remove the exposed pipes in the medium term,” he said.

“Low risk indicates the material is in good and stable condition, which presents a negligible health risk in its current condition.

“However, the pipes and slabs are an eyesore on a lovely beach and as soon as we have the required permit from Marine Parks and endorsement from Crown Lands, we’ll have a licenced asbestos removal contractor safely remove and dispose of the old pipes.

“The permits will take at least a few more weeks, with the actual clean-up taking up to a week. That 100-metre or so section of the beach will then be reopened.”

Stormwater pipes still in use further north on the beach will be encapsulated in concrete to mitigate risk, with Mr Attenborough noting that work will take longer due to additional permit requirements.

Mr Attenborough said large equipment will be needed on the beach for the work to take place.

“Ahead of the contractors coming in, Council will improve access to the site, taking the opportunity to remove and mulch some of the trees and branches littering the beach after recent storms.

“We’ll strategically place the tree root balls to help stabilise the bank and tidy up a few of the fallen trees to improve access for beach users at high tide. Some trees, however, will be left in place, as they play a role in mitigating further erosion.”

Looking ahead, Council’s Coastal Management Program has identified beach nourishment as the most effective solution to address erosion at the northern end of Surfside Beach. This involves replenishing the beach with sand from another location.

Mr Attenborough said Council is liaising with NSW Government agencies to examine the possibility of using sand from the Clyde River dredging.

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