Specialist asbestos clean-up crews at work in Lennox Head, clearing away the hazardous material scattered by Thursday’s destructive tornado.
Specialist asbestos clean-up crews at work in Lennox Head, clearing away the hazardous material scattered by Thursday’s destructive tornado. Jay Cronan, Lismore Northern Star

Asbestos clean-up in Lennox

PEOPLE worried whether it was safe to be on the streets of Lennox Head yesterday, as men and women in full protective gear and face masks worked to clear the township of asbestos.

Huge amounts of the potentially deadly fibres, found in old building materials and some insulation, were strewn around Lennox Head by the strong winds of Thursday’s freak tornado.

As a builder, local man Dave Foley is acutely aware of the dangers of asbestos.

That’s why he wasted no time cleaning up the debris the storm hurled into his yard on the corner of Stewart and Foster streets. He was decked out in full protective gear as a ‘precaution’.

“I’ve got two kids, aged 12 and 13, so as soon as I could I started cleaning up all this asbestos,” Mr Foley said.

“I want to get it out of the yard before it starts to dry up.

“That’s when it starts to break up more easily and it becomes much more dangerous. The best way to get rid of it and treat it is to keep it wet.

“After the storm hit, you couldn’t take two steps without walking on some asbestos.”

However, NSW SES Commissioner, Murray Kear, said WorkCover and fire brigade HAZMAT teams had advised the emergency services that they were ‘doing the right thing’.

“The safety of the community and the safety of our emergency services personnel is our priority,” he said. “At the moment the focus of the clean-up is to remove all the debris.”

Despite the asbestos removal teams wearing protective gear and face masks, Mr Kear said it was safe for residents to walk around their neighbourhoods.

It is understood the clean-up teams needed to wear the gear because they are being exposed to the asbestos for long periods of time.



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