Criminal Investigation Launched After Yet More Asbestos Was Found In 100+ Sites Across Sydney

A criminal investigation has been launched after mulch containing asbestos was found in at least 25 different sites across NSW, with fears more than 100 sites could be affected.

In addition to Sydney’s Victoria Park — which saw Mardi Gras’ annual Fair Day canned — asbestos has now been found in more than 70 different garden beds and parks, including at schools, hospitals, and supermarkets.

The search to determine exactly how far spread the asbestos-laden mulch is on, with authorities investigating whether it’s due to criminal conduct.

“We are looking at multiple lines of inquiry absolutely, including allegations of foul play or criminal conduct,” NSW Environmental Protection Agency chief executive Tony Chappel said on Friday.

At least 25 sites have already been confirmed to contain the material, with the mulch been found at a school, a supermarket and a hospital. At least seven more schools are due to be tested.

Where is the contaminated mulch coming from?

Of the contaminated sites, 24 contained bonded asbestos, a form of asbestos mixed with a product such as concrete and considered low risk to human health. However one site, Harmony Park in Surry Hills, contained friable asbestos, which can more easily be broken down into dust and inhaled.

“We are testing these locations as we have identified through our delivery tracking that they may contain contaminated mulch,” the City of Sydney council said in a statement.

“We anticipate the testing of parks and garden beds will take several weeks.  

“If further asbestos is found, the area will be fenced and signs put up while clean-up takes place.”

It also said the contaminated mulch has been located at private homes. Homeowners affected had been identified and further testing was carried out.

So far, no suspects have been identified and no charges have been laid. However one supplier, the GreenLife Resource Recovery Facility, has been identified as a possible source and banned from making any further sales.

GreenLife Resource Recovery Facility says its mulch was tested 20 times and maintains it is asbestos free, and will be challenging the sale ban in court. It is believed the company had sold its mulch to about 30 other suppliers.