Allambie Heights Public School is confirmed to have asbestos found in mulch in the school playground.

The asbestos mulch crisis has deepened with Allambie Heights Public School this morning (Saturday, 17 February) confirmed to be one of four new locations contaminated with asbestos mulch.

Mid-morning, workers in hazmat suits and breathing gear were seen working in the central garden bed of a playground near the Roosevelt Avenue entrance of the public primary school.

Asbestos at Allambie Heights Public School

Since the discovery of asbestos found in mulch used in Sydney’s inner west for the new Rozelle Parklands last month, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) launched a supply chain investigation into how the asbestos came to be in the mulch, and whether other sites were affected.

The EPA identified that several schools had received deliveries of mulch from the same supplier, one of those schools being Allambie Heights Public School at Allambie Road, Allambie Heights. Following examination of mulch at the school, and tests conducted by the EPA, this morning confirmed a positive test result for asbestos.

Allambie Heights Public School

Allambie Heights Public School is now one of 32 locations the EPA has confirmed that asbestos contaminated mulch has been found. Allambie Heights is the second school to have been found with contaminated mulch, the other being Liverpool West Public School.

Ten other NSW schools have been identified for asbestos testing, nine are undergoing inspection, with only North Sydney Public School given the all-clear so far. None of the other ten schools are on the Northern Beaches.

Asbestos at Allambie Heights Public School

The Department of Education has also confirmed that a single piece of bonded asbestos has been found in a garden bed at Allambie Heights Public School. They said the garden bed had been cordoned off since yesterday morning (Friday, 16 February) and that remediation work would begin as soon as possible.

Hazmat workers observed at the primary school this morning were focused on the central garden bed, but other garden beds containing mulch also appeared to be cordoned off with tape within the school as a precaution.

Asbestos at Allambie Heights Public School

A specialist team from Fire and Rescue NSW were observed arriving at Allambie Heights Public School just before 11.30am this morning to consult with the hazmat team on remediation of the site.

The EPA says that bonded asbestos, which is what has been found at the school, is low-risk and presents less danger to the public than friable asbestos which can be inhaled and cause the deadly disease mesothelioma.

Michael Regan in the NSW Parliament

Wakehurst MP Michael Regan (image above) has received a briefing from NSW Minister for Environment Penny Sharpe on the finding and spoken with Allambie Heights Public School. He says that work over the weekend should remove the threat.

“The Minister hosted a forum with all MPs and MLCs yesterday afternoon, which was very informative. The NSW Government to their credit is acting responsibly and quickly as the criminal investigation continues.

“We must find out how this has happened across the State. And hats off to the local school community for the ‘no fuss’ and caring way they have dealt with this unfortunate incident. Hopefully, it will be removed by the end of the weekend,” said Mr Regan.

At a press conference given today, NSW Department of Education Secretary Murat Dizdar confirmed that work should be completed over the weekend and Allambie Heights Public School will be open on Monday (19 February).

Visit the EPA website for more information about the ongoing investigation into asbestos in mulch and specific sites with confirmed detections.

The NSW Government has an asbestos website with more information about identifying, safe handling and removal of asbestos.

Images: Northern Beaches Advocate

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