Users of a popular West Footscray dog park have been angered by the discovery of volatile asbestos at the site.
Samples of material found at the Martin Reserve off-lead dog park have been found to contain friable asbestos, considered to be dangerous if disturbed as the deadly asbestos fibres are easily released into the air.
The park, which backs onto Footscray West Primary School, reopened to the public in recent weeks after receiving a makeover.
Park user Nikki said she first noticed what she suspected was asbestos in dirt fill dumped at Martin Reserve early in April.
“I have had experience working with asbestos so I generally know what it looks like,” she said.
“I picked it up and put it in dog poo bags so I could get it tested.”
Nikki said she phoned Maribyrnong Council on April 8 to tell them she was “95 per cent sure” she had found friable asbestos.
She also contacted the Environment Protection Authority, which told her it was a matter for the Council to manage.
Another park user had already emailed the Council on April 7 requesting urgent steps be taken to deal with the dumped fill.
Nikki returned to the dog park on April 9 to find contractors spreading the piles and picking rubbish out of the dirt as they went.
“I ran over taking photos and telling them I was sure there is asbestos, but they didn’t care.”
Testing of samples by environmental consultants Hazard Alert, returned on April 18, identified friable class A asbestos in the woven fibrous material provided.
Nikki said she sent the results of the testing to the council.
“The council said they took two soil samples and it was negative for asbestos, but they spread the piles before they got their results back,” she said.
“They just buried it. The council should have followed their own friable asbestos procedures.”
The Council’s website states that friable asbestos “must be dealt with immediately in the correct way”, preferably by a professional.
“Asbestos fibres are hazardous if inhaled, posing a risk of asbestosis and cancer of the lungs,” the site states.
“There is little treatment for the conditions, that have led to a number of unfortunate deaths in Australia.”
Nikki said she welcomed the asbestos warning signs another park user later placed at the park, which have since been taken down.
“I did not put the signs up, but whoever put them up has done the right thing as people should know what was found in the dog park,” she said.
“Residents, schools and sporting clubs should also be notified.”
Footscray resident Sue Cram walked her two dogs in the park every day, but has not taken them there since asbestos warning notices were posted around the park.
“I find it unbelievable that Maribyrnong Council or their contractors have put the health of residents, their children and their dogs at extreme health risk in this manner,” she said.
“The dangers of asbestos inhalation are well known. It is illegal and unforgivable.”
Star Weekly understands concerned residents have raised the matter with the Ombudsman’s office over the handling of the matter.
The EPA directed questions on the asbestos to Maribyrnong Council.
The council has not responded to requests for comment.
On Monday afternoon the Council posted on social media that tests of its own soil samples for contamination have returned negative.
“We can confirm that no asbestos is present at Martin Reserve Dog Park… Later this week we are expecting the landscaping to be completed &the temporary fencing installed as a precautionary measure will then be removed.”