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Hosken Reserve asbestos remediation works

06 Apr 2024

Merri-bek City Council is currently undertaking major upgrade works at Hosken Reserve in Coburg North, with the majority of the site closed to the public for these works since January 2024.

In late January, asbestos-contaminated soil was found within the area closed for the major upgrade works.

This contaminated soil was removed by competent and qualified asbestos removalists. Local residents were notified.

Further asbestos-contaminated soil was discovered recently, again within the construction site area closed for major upgrade works. This contaminated soil is now being removed by competent and qualified asbestos removalists and is expected to be completed by Friday 31 May. 

Asbestos-contaminated soil was not found in the playground at Hosken Reserve. Council chose to close the playground as an extra precaution. As a precaution, the entire reserve has now been closed.

Asbestos-contaminated soil found at Hosken Reserve in Coburg North has been handled as per nationally recognised, safe operating procedures. The EPA is also aware of this contamination, as is WorkSafe Victoria. Asbestos located at the reserve has been localised to soil only and has not been detected in any materials (topsoil or mulch for example) being brought onto the site. There is no evidence available to suggest this incident is related to any other asbestos contamination cases across the state or nationally.

All asbestos found on site is considered non-friable. Non-friable asbestos is solid and cannot be crumbled or released into the air.

It is a frequent occurrence in inner Melbourne that construction projects will involve discovery of centuries-old or decades-old contamination, which can then be appropriately dealt with under standards and guidelines.

Throughout contaminated soil removal works, all necessary health and safety conditions will continue to be met and air monitoring will be conducted to ensure the safety of workers and nearby residents. As an added precaution, workers on site will be required to wear personal protective equipment.

Any soil that contains asbestos is also currently sealed, under-cover and is inaccessible to the public. This contaminated soil is removed from the site as a priority. Other clean soil remains on site that is also covered to reduce dust.

As is the process for all development activity in the municipality, soil testing works and risk mitigation plans were prepared prior to development commencing.  Soil testing works were carried out via numerous bore sites across the reserve, as this is an industry standard way of working. Bore sites, although useful for large areas, may not detect isolated areas of contaminated soil, as was the case at Hosken Reserve. 

The safety of the community, staff and contractors is our utmost priority and we will continue to take all necessary precautions to ensure the site is safe as removal works continue.

Hosken Reserve remains closed, and we ask the public not to enter the site. Generic asbestos hazard tape reading ‘Danger, Asbestos Dust’ had also been strung up within the reserve grounds. However, as the asbestos at the site is non-friable, and therefore does not create any dust particles, this tape has been removed and replaced with general hazard tape to avoid any confusion.  

We thank the community for their patience as we deal with this issue as a priority.