It seems like an everyday occurrence that asbestos is discovered in Australia. As one of the largest users of asbestos before the 1980s, there are tens of thousands of structures around the country that contain the harmful building material. While the government ceased most use of asbestos decades ago, many of the previous structures are beginning to falter.
As these buildings begin to age, there is a high risk of exposure to asbestos. If asbestos is unsettled, it can become airborne and put people at risk of inhaling the material.
Recently, a community in New South Wales has been shocked with the news that a local heritage site requires urgent repairs. They also found that it contains a large amount of at-risk asbestos.
This news mimics many challenges that other areas of the country are facing. Should local authorities repair asbestos sites or get rid of them altogether? The answer is often unclear.
Where Was the Asbestos Discovered?
The asbestos was discovered in a heritage site near Peel River. The Paradise Wells on Scott Road are considered a historic site by Tamworth Regional Council residents. While there wasn’t much previous concern for the wells, it has been revealed that the buildings are currently not fit for purpose.
For them to return to a suitable condition, the wells will need to undergo extensive repairs. The presence of asbestos makes the entire situation even more tricky. Asbestos removal can only be handled by highly trained professionals with a unique understanding of the risks involved.
Improper removal can contaminate an area and make it next to impossible to perform site remediation. Proper environmental management is needed to ensure the harmful substance does not poorly impact the scenic area. Potential damages can last long into the future, ruining the site for local families and visitors.
At the same time, the residents are not keen to lose the wells. They have a profound significance to the area, partly because of their prominence over the past decades. The council is seeking a resolution that prioritises both health and local history.
What is the Danger of Asbestos?
Asbestos is often considered one of the most dangerous building materials in the world. As previously mentioned, the use of asbestos was widespread before the 1980s. Asbestos had long been one of the most used building materials in many Western countries.
The material, which consists of six minerals that appear as fibres, can create fatal lung conditions and a host of other medical problems. The severity of the consequences of using asbestos was not fully realised until a few decades ago. This was partly because of the length of time it takes for medical issues to take effect.
In many cases, it can take multiple decades for an individual to experience the negative consequences of asbestos. The fibres lay dormant in the lungs until they create enough scarring to cause severe conditions, including a deadly cancer named mesothelioma.
Another disease related to the material is asbestosis; a chronic lung condition that can result in inflammation, coughing and a range of other serious side effects.
The harmful results of asbestos are normally found in individuals who were involved in the procurement of asbestos or the construction industry. While asbestos remains in many buildings throughout the world, it is thought to be relatively harmless if it goes untouched.
When asbestos is unsettled, it becomes airborne and easily inhalable by those in the vicinity of the material. For this reason, authorities are continually having to monitor asbestos sites to ensure that contents are properly concealed.
What is the Local Council Doing?
In the case of Paradise Wells, the local council has trouble on their hands. At present, the council is trying to decide between a range of different remedies that may or may not be able to solve the issue at hand. Either way, they face a substantial challenge.
The cheapest option is to eradicate the Paradise Wells entirely. This is thought to have a price tag of around $350,000. However, others are calling for the site to be restored and revamped so that it can be used as a local gathering spot for residents and visitors. The cost of this overhaul is thought to be around $500,000.
Regardless of the option that is chosen by the council and residents, one thing is clear: rigorous procedures must be followed.
If mistakes are made during the demolition or reconstruction process, asbestos may enter the environment. Environmental remediation is often an expensive business, and it has to be handled by professionals who understand the complex nature of reducing the ecological impact of asbestos.
While initial costs seem to be coming in at around $500,000, complications could see the price tag quickly increase.
Proper Asbestos Removal is Critical
This case highlights the extreme care that has to be taken during asbestos-related restoring and demolition. While many people have forgotten the horrors experienced by past generations exposed to asbestos, the threat is still genuine. Even a small amount of asbestos exposure can result in severe consequences for the individual who is exposed to the material.
Authorities in Australia and abroad are in a constant battle to ensure that their communities are not adversely affected by this harmful substance. Not only does asbestos require trained removal professionals, but it may also require environmental remediation if something goes wrong.
Asbestos is still present in some of our nation’s most critical structures. This includes large buildings, homes, and even local schools.
Fortunately, there are highly skilled professionals with years of experience removing these types of harmful substances. They aim to reduce the impact of asbestos and ensure that dangerous contaminations do not occur. Environmental specialists are also often used to assess the potential damage that removal may have on the surrounding area or occupants.
It is essential never to unsettle or dislodge asbestos-built materials. If you believe there is unsettled asbestos in your vicinity, it’s vital to contact the appropriate professionals for prompt and safe asbestos management.