Waste sparks asbestos fear at Jack Vanny Reserve in Maroubra

August 12, 2013 at 3:51 PM

AN asbestos scare triggered the sudden closure of a popular beachside park yesterday after illegally dumped building waste was found.

Visitors to Jack Vanny Reserve in Maroubra were stunned yesterday morning to see workers in contamination suits - and a sign that read: "Danger Asbestos".

The men, who worked for building company PCB, spent several hours picking up the potentially hazardous material from the ground and sealing it into plastic bags marked "Caution Asbestos. Do Not Inhale."

The area is known for the Mahon Pool where locals including Foreign Minister Bob Carr swim laps and others walk their dogs or fish from the rocks.Three bags filled with the suspect materials were removed from the area and put in the boot of a car driven by a PCB employee.

Throughout the clean-up operation residents continued to walk along the reserve's path within metres of the contaminated area.

Randwick City Council would not confirm the substance was asbestos and said the suspect material was still being tested.

"Council workers recently identified some material in the Jack Vanny Reserve at Maroubra that may contain asbestos," a Randwick City Council spokesman said.

"(The) council has strict procedures in place that meant council officers promptly informed the NSW Environment Protection Authority, arranged for an investigation and subsequent removal of the material."

Randwick City Council will inspect the area again today.

The council is yet to determine where the material came from, but a worker at the reserve said the material was dumped and over time had come to the surface.

The EPA said the council informed it of the potentially hazardous material, however it was not assisting the clean-up.

The roped-off area was reopened to the public about 1pm.

Resident John Talifero, 82, has lived in Maroubra for 41 years and walks his dog, Daisy, in Jack Vanny Reserve.

He said this was the first time he had seen a clean-up like this and he was concerned that many people may have walked across dangerous material without realising.

"(I saw the workers) as soon as I came down this morning," Mr Talifero said.

"(It's) most unusual.

"That's where the fishermen go," he said. "Down there on the rocks."