February 27, 2024

Asbestos has been found in garden mulch at new locations in Sydney’s inner-west and west after the discovery of contamination at the Rozelle parklands earlier this month prompted wider testing.

The Transport for NSW secretary, Josh Murray, confirmed on Wednesday that asbestos had been detected in recycled mulch used at railway substations in Dulwich Hill, Canterbury and Campsie.

Sydney Metro contractor Systems Connect conducted targeted testing at five substation locations where recycled mulch was used in landscaping work last October, Murray told 2GB radio on Wednesday.

“We’ve been continuing to test and retest so we can be very clear with the public about this contamination and we have identified some new sites overnight,” he said, adding that none of the substations were accessible to the public.

The testing also found asbestos in mulch used along the Prospect Highway between Prospect and Blacktown, with 31 samples returning four positive results, Murray said.

The transport boss said on Wednesday there was “clearly” a “problem in the supply chain that we need to tackle” and that the environmental watchdog was continuing its investigation.

“We don’t buy mulch here at transport but we do have to get all of the information and the source data through to the [Environment Protection Authority] and then really be clear about how all of these sites could be linked,” he said.

Transport for NSW was contacted for further comment.

The Rozelle parklands won’t fully reopen to the public until at least April after testing undertaken by the transport department found bonded asbestos in recycled garden mulch in 17 samples.

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The bonded asbestos was first discovered by a parent whose child brought it home from a garden bed near a playground. Bonded asbestos is considered lower risk than friable asbestos because its particles are less likely to become airborne.

John Holland and its joint venture partner, CPB contractors, which built the Rozelle interchange and the park on top of it, began remediation works on Tuesday, although the government was yet to confirm how much it will cost or who will pay.

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