Australia’s asbestos mulch issue continues to expand. 

WorkSafe ACT has confirmed the presence of friable asbestos in mulch used at a residential complex in Denman Prospect, Canberra. 

WorkSafe ACT's response has seen the immediate isolation of the affected area and the issuance of a prohibition notice, preventing any disturbance of the contaminated mulch until further assessment and remediation can be organised. 

“We put a verbal prohibition notice on that site. Today that prohibition notice was upgraded to include that the [mulch] cannot be moved, disturbed or disposed of,” Work Health and Safety Commissioner Jacqueline Agius said last Thursday. 

The risk to the community has been deemed low, Agius says.

“Out of the 100 square metres of mulch on the site, only 0.2 grams of friable asbestos was identified, despite extensive testing of the site,” she noted. 

The ACT contamination stems from mulch provided by NSW supplier Greenlife. 

The ACT government says it has committed to an immediate two-step remediation process for residences with contaminated mulch.

The situation has sparked a broader dialogue about the responsibility of businesses in preventing environmental contamination. 

Greenlife Resource Recovery, the company at the centre of the asbestos mulch issue, is facing scrutiny over its practices, with the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) taking legal steps to enforce compliance and mitigate risks to public health and safety.