A mess spotted at the edge of the Kolan River.
A mess spotted at the edge of the Kolan River. Mike Knott

Dumped asbestos removed from riverbank on Bundy Sugar land

SPECIALISTS have successfully removed asbestos that was dumped beside the Kolan River on Bundaberg Sugar land earlier this year.

Late last week, the sugar giant confirmed a portion of its land at Yandaran Creek had been decontaminated after asbestos-containing materials were dumped there earlier in the year.

"The specialist asbestos removal company checked the dumped materials ... that had been dumped by an unknown third party," a spokesperson told the NewsMail.

"Some were identified as containing asbestos products and have been safely removed and the area decontaminated."

In May the leases for a collection of fishing shacks at the river's edge on Bundaberg Sugar land expired.

The cottages dated back to the late 1940s and early 1950s and housed generations of families before they were all ordered to leave by last June 1.

After the residents moved out some shacks were demolished, shortly after which a recreational fisherman spotted a mess of rubble, a tire, roofing iron, ceramic dishes, concrete cylinders, wooden pallets and asbestos lying on top of mangroves and in close proximity of the water's edge.

A mess of litter consisting of tyres, roofing iron, ceramic dishes concrete cylinders, wooden pallets and what looks like fibro sheets or possibly asbestos has been spotted at the edge of the Kolan River on Bundaberg Sugar's private land.
A mess of litter consisting of tyres, roofing iron, ceramic dishes concrete cylinders, wooden pallets and what looks like fibro sheets or possibly asbestos has been spotted at the edge of the Kolan River on Bundaberg Sugar's private land. Mike Knott

Addressing the asbestos, a spokesperson for the Bundaberg Regional Council said it was "satisfied that the landowner is taking appropriate action and continues to monitor the situation".

At that time the Bundaberg Regional Council was contacted and confirmed the matter was being investigated and being treated as water contamination under the Environmental Protection Act 1994.

However, in August both Bundaberg Sugar and the council were asked questions regarding the progress of the investigation.

Neither confirmed whether tests had been undertaken to confirm whether the material suspected of being asbestos was indeed toxic.

A council spokesperson instead told the NewsMail: "As private property, it is the responsibility of the landowner to remove the materials".

In spite of the recent removal of the asbestos, president of Bundaberg Landcare Michael Johnson said his concern focussed on the time in which it took to remove the fatal material from beside the river system.

"You'd think somebody could've just gone and collected it immediately," he said.

A mess of litter consisting of tyres, roofing iron, ceramic dishes concrete cylinders, wooden pallets and what looks like fibro sheets or possibly asbestos has been spotted at the edge of the Kolan River on Bundaberg Sugar's private land.
'DISTRUBING': A litter heap consisting of a tyre, roofing iron, a ceramic dish, concrete cylinders and fibro sheets that could contain asbestos has been spotted next to the Kolan River on Bundaberg Sugar land. Mike Knott

"Whenever you've got asbestos, you're supposed to remove it straight away.

"You don't wait until it gets spread out or is blown around or washed away.

"But the big question is always: Who is going to pay for it, because getting a contractor out there and wrapping it all up and that, that's a big bill."

Mr Johnson said the asbestos dumped beside the river would have had minimal if any impact on the community.

"But if there'd been a flood and it had been washed out, which after this drought it's definitely possible, it could've been more serious."

"It should always be removed straight away while it's a relatively simple job."