Asbestos Sydney: Liverpool West Public School closed after asbestos found in garden mulch

A Sydney primary school will close for two days after asbestos was found in garden mulch, sparking fears from parents and staff.

It comes after the discovery of asbestos at a newly-opened park at Rozelle Interchange in Sydney’s inner-west lead to an extensive investigation of a mulch manufacturer.

Liverpool West Primary School was listed as a priority site for testing after it was found to have purchased mulch from the same manufacturer.

On Sunday, the tests results confirmed that a single piece of bonded asbestos was present in the mulch.

Asbestos can become trapped in the lungs if breathed in and exposure increases the risk of developing cancers of the lung, ovary and larynx as well as mesothelioma (cancer of the lining of the lung), according to the Cancer Council.

The NSW Department of Education has enacted its asbestos protocol and as a precaution, the school will operate with remote learning on Monday and Tuesday.

NSW EPA chief executive Tony Chappel said the EPA was concerned by the results and would be working around the clock to ensure the safety of the school community.

“We understand that finding asbestos at a school is extremely concerning for families and we are working as quickly as possible to get to the bottom of this situation,” he said.

The EPA was advised the school was a potential site on Friday afternoon and a licensed asbestos assessor were sent out first thing on Saturday morning to test the site.

“We are supporting the school and the Department of Education to urgently secure the site and ensure the contaminated mulch is cleaned up and replaced,” Mr Chappel said.

“We thank the community for their ongoing patience and trust as we continue this complex investigation,” Mr Chappel said.

As part of its investigation the EPA has conducted more than 100 tests at sites across Sydney, with thirteen returning a positive result for bonded asbestos, which NSW Health advises is low risk to public health.

Anyone with concerns about recently received mulch are urged to contact the EPA Environment Line on 131 555 or at info@epa.nsw.gov.au.

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