The Iconic Port Kembla Stack in the Wollongong area being demolished raised concerns that asbestos containing dust may be created. The residents of Wollongong and Port Kembla area fear that that smoke stack has not been properly assessed for asbestos. One concerned resident said that levels four to 22 were not accessible and could not be inspected to see if it was asbestos free.
Reported Asbestos Fears from the Port Kembla Stack based in the Wollongong Area
The Illawarra Mercury reports that the Environments Protection Authority (EPA) confirmed that asbestos testing revealed no signs of the Port Kembla stack. Tests were undertaken in Wollongong by both the EPA and WorkCover which did not reveal asbestos. It is understood that samples within the stack of the concrete, brick and mortar used to construct the stack.
So why is there concern in the Wollongong region about samples that came back negative? If anything the real risk would be from silica exposure, however no one ever tend stop make mention of this. The exposure in any case would be so low that it would likely be negligible. Silica is carcinogenic as well. It is even understood that one of the Wollongong Councillors tried to move a motion to stop the demolition due to asbestos concerns.
It appears that the residents shouldn’t have been so concerned with asbestos but other potential residues such as metals; however there was no elevated levels of radioactivity. But the dust suppression devices in place including specialised water cannons and sprays along with air-quality monitoring is used to limit exposure and understand if there was significant release.
Asbestos Testing in Wollongong after the Port Kembla Tower Demolition
The 198 meter tower finally fell at around 11 am last Thursday with thousands of people watching it fall. It is understood that dust samples were taken with no reported asbestos being viable, however further results are to be with asbestos testing. Dust clean-up crews were around to clean up with vacuums and street sweepers to clean up excessive dust.
Contact the Expert Panel About Asbestos Concerns from the Port Kembla Stack in Wollongong
It is understood that an independent panel of experts has been created to assess issues of asbestos dust relating to the Port Kembla Stack Demolition. The expert asbestos panel can be contacted on 1300 305 695. It is unknown as to whether there was any asbestos air monitoring conducted, however if there was, the results of potential asbestos airborne concentration should be made freely available to alleviate fears.
Even if there was asbestos air monitoring undertaken, this does not mean that the fibres detected were actually asbestos, it assumes that all fibres are asbestos that are of a respirable size. Only through the analysis a Scanning Election Microscope (SEM) or Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) could this be actually verified.
If you’re in the Wollongong or Port Kembla Region and require an independent expert to assess asbestos risks, please contact one of our NSW licensed asbestos assessors or occupational hygienists on 02 9621 3706.
Author: Carl Strautins
Carl Strautins is a managing director of Safe Environments Pty Ltd a multi-specialist consultancy operating in the building, construction and property management industries. He provides the necessary guidance and risk minimisation strategies required by architects, construction companies and facility managers to ensure they mitigated their risk to property risk. He is engaged on a regular basis to provide expert opinion for disputes and legal proceedings. Click here to know more about him.