Asbestos spread by trucks
By HELEN JACK
ASBESTOS may be in dust kicked up by logging trucks travelling roads around Baryulgil. And that dust could be carried by the trucks into regional centres. Baryulgil is the location of a former James Hardie asbestos mine.
John Tredrea, of the Nimbin Environment Centre, has begun an investigation into whether or not asbestos dust contaminates Clarence Way and Lionsville Road. Mr Tredrea said results of tests on samples from the roads were not yet completed.
"One sample has been confirmed as blue fibrous material," he said.
Baryulgil is a small Aboriginal settlement 72 km north-west of Grafton and 112 km south-west of Casino.
The asbestos mine began operations there in the early 1940s and closed in 1979, following a damning report by ABC journalist Matt Peacock in 1977.
According to the October 2005 edition of Asbestos News, it was common for the local council of the day, Copmanhurst Shire Council, to use asbestos to repair local roads.
Residents also reported using asbestos bags from the mine around their homes and asbestos was found in the settlement, in house gutters and on leaves of trees.
Children played in the mine tailings.
Copmanhurst council was amalgamated into Clarence Valley Council in 2004.
Clarence Valley Council general manager Stuart McPherson said any material used for road construction was now bonded with other road base materials.
"But this does not downplay the larger issue that residents of Baryulgil and the people who worked the mine have been affected by asbestos-related issues," he said.
"We are still not aware of asbestos being used in road construction, so it's an assertion at this stage. Asbestos is naturally-occurring in the area and any quarried material in that area would obviously be used in road-making activities and would have been done at a time before people were aware of the damage it could cause to humans."