Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Asbestos in fill dumped near school

Parent says it is unbelievable that the council would not check and test the soil.

Sacking and plastic sheeting has been placed over areas of Glendowie Park.  Photo / Steven McNicholl
Sacking and plastic sheeting has been placed over areas of Glendowie Park. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Tests are being carried out on asbestos-containing material found in truck loads of soil dumped at Glendowie Park right opposite Glendowie Primary School.

The Auckland Council has fenced off a large section of Glendowie Park and school principal Anne-Marie Biggs has stopped the 650 pupils from playing sport on the park until it is declared safe.

The fenced off area is just 30m from the front gate of the primary school. Sacking and plastic sheeting has been placed over areas where the soil was dumped. Winds yesterday blew plastic off one of the areas.

After being alerted by a parent on Monday about the possibility of asbestos at the park and receiving confirmation of asbestos-containing material on Tuesday, Ms Biggs sent children home with a letter to parents, which included an assurance that recent sports activities at the park were not in the affected area.

The school principal said she had been told the asbestos-containing material was in a solid form, not crumbling or a dust-forming state, and the danger was "minimalistic".

About 80cu m of topsoil was trucked to the park on October 24 and October 25 from a private property and levelled for landscaping purposes on October 25.

Local and sports parks manager Mark Bowater refused to say where the soil came from, except that it came from a private property and the agreement with the landowner was for clean fill. No other soil from the property had been used on council or other sites, he said.

Mr Bowater said the asbestos material in the fill was believed to be low-risk because it was in a solid form.

Even so, he said, all of the fill was being removed to an approved landfill and the council was testing it in conjunction with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service.

Emma Griffiths, whose 5-year-old daughter attends the school, said it was unbelievable that the council would not check and test the soil before using it on the park.

She said her uncle was being buried in the United Kingdom tomorrow after dying within a year of being diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease at the age of 53.

The council, she said, should be penalised and make a donation to the school.

ASBESTOS SCARE:

80cu m amount of asbestos-containing soil dumped at Glendowie Park.
30m distance from fenced off area to school gate.
650 number of children at Glendowie Primary School.

- NZ Herald

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