February 28, 2024

Bonded asbestos fragments have been found in mulch at a south-west Sydney primary school, with students to start the week from home.

The New South Wales Environment Protection Authority on Sunday confirmed the presence of bonded asbestos in mulch used at Liverpool West public school.

The EPA identified the school as a priority site for testing after asbestos was found in mulch supplied by the same manufacturer at the Rozelle interchange and other sites across Sydney.

Recycled mulch containing bonded asbestos forced the closure of several parts of Rozelle parklands in the city’s inner west last month, as well as other areas associated with the road interchange underneath the site.

The EPA chief executive, Tony Chappel, on Sunday said the results were concerning and his organisation would work around the clock to ensure the safety of the school community.

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“On Friday afternoon (9 February), I was advised the school was a potential site,” Chappel said in a statement.

“As a result, our officers and a licensed asbestos assessor were sent out first thing Saturday morning to test and this afternoon, we were notified that one sample contained a single piece of bonded asbestos.”

He said the site would be secured urgently, and cleaned up and replaced on Monday.

“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.

Students will not attend school on Monday or Tuesday, as the school has enacted its asbestos protocol. This means students will be taught remotely.

As part of its investigation the EPA has conducted more than 100 tests at sites across Sydney, with 13 returning a positive result for bonded asbestos, which NSW Health advises is a low risk to public health.

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