Asbestos detected in South East Queensland soil

6 March 2024

A small amount of asbestos has been detected in soil stockpile at NuGrow Ipswich.

The contaminated soil was detected during an inspection by the Department of Environment, Science, and Innovation (DESI), and the Asbestos Safety Unit of Work health and Safety Queensland (WHSQ).

Since Friday, 2 February 2024, NuGrow has supplied soil to 16 businesses which could contain asbestos. The testing has returned a positive result of contamination from the tested soil to date.

As a precaution, WHSQ has prohibited NuGrow to distribute the contaminated stockpile, and DESI has ordered that all reasonable and practical measures to prevent asbestos from being released into the air are taken.

The asbestos found presents a very low risk when undisturbed, and when preventative measures, such as those being imposed, are taken to prevent its release.

DESI has issued the following precautionary emergency directions to NuGrow which are:

  • Immediately take action to prevent any asbestos being released to the air
  • Prohibit removing the material from site unless it is being lawfully disposed of, or is certified by a qualified professional that it is asbestos free
  • Provide information on where the material has been taken off site within the last 30 days and how the asbestos may have been bought onto the site
  • Engage an appropriately qualified specialist for asbestos management to carry out an independent assessment of all material on site

A prohibition notice has been issued by WHSQ to prevent the distribution of contaminated materials.

Asbestos-contaminated materials are not authorised to be used in any circumstances for the manufacturing of soil, mulch, compost, or any other products in Queensland, and must be appropriately disposed to landfill.

If any Master Builders member believes that they have found asbestos-contaminated material, purchased soil product from any of the businesses listed (refer to website above) since 2 February and you are concerned it may have originated from NuGrow, on their site, they should:

  • Contact DESI on 1300 130 372 for further information and advice. You do not need to wait to listen for the options. Please press 2 to speak with an operator.
  • Do not disturb the product.
  • Report the identification to WHSQ for further advice.
  • Barricade the area and prevent access to the material. Post signage indicating “Danger Keep Out No Access”.
  • Confirm with WHSQ if they are conducting testing or they are directing you as the person conducting a business or undertaking (PCBU) to have material sampled and tested to confirm if asbestos is present.
  • If contaminated soil is identified, discuss with WHSQ how the contaminated soil should be removed, i.e. engage a Class A or Class B Licenced asbestos removalist.
  • Seek further advice or assistance by contacting your Master Builders Queensland WHS team.

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