A COUNCIL in the NSW Southern Highlands has been accused of withholding information about the possible use of asbestos waste in roadworks.
It was revealed on August 3 that recycled asbestos material had been used in the 2008 construction of two roads at Robertson, 100km southwest of Sydney.
But only last Friday, following a call from a concerned resident, did Wingecarribee Shire Council reveal it was aware of several more roads in nearby Wingello — including one near a primary school — that had been sourced from the same supplier and could also contain the hazardous material.
Yesterday, locals accused the council of neglecting to inform residents of the potential threat.
“They discovered there was a problem down in Robertson over a month ago, yet we had to call them to ask if our road was also affected,” said Wingello resident Annabelle Quince.
Ms Quince called the council after her neighbour, great-grandmother of nine Judy Ballard, read an old news report concerning the asbestos in Robertson and recognised similarities between the pictures and the material used on a road outside her home.
The pair confronted council, which confirmed the road outside their homes was under investigation for asbestos. But only after calling the Mayor did they receive confirmation it would be properly tested.
“When you have the potential of such a dangerous substance like asbestos, the council should’ve been proactive, telling everyone and testing properly to make sure it is safe,” Ms Quince said. The mother of two said she feared dust from the cracked road that blows directly in to her home could be contaminated.
Ms Ballard said that she had stopped her young relatives from using the road until given the all-clear. “I’m sure it was OK when it was sealed but now that it’s broken up there’s dust everywhere blowing in to people’s homes and they’re breathing it,” she said.
“If the council had’ve been doing the right thing, they should’ve come out here with water tankers and stop the dust from coming up.”
Mayor Ken Halsteed said council “took the matter very seriously” and would seal the roads if found to be dangerous, which could cost tens of thousands of dollars.
However, Mr Halsteed could not explain why the investigation had taken so long.
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