12.1 C
Byron Shire
May 18, 2024

Asbestos stops work on fast-food site

Latest News

Brunswick 30 has been delivered to Brunswick Heads Boat Harbour

Following successful sea trials at Yamba the Brunswick 30 was delivered to Brunswick Heads Boat Harbour on Wednesday, May 15. 

Other News

Cartoon of the week – 15 May, 2024

The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that matter most to our readers and the people of the NSW north coast. So don’t be a passive reader, send us your epistles.

Labor NSW spruiks healthcare worker incentives as QLD continues to poach

More than a thousand nursing graduates and students have received offers under Labor’s NSW Tertiary Health Study Subsidy Program as part of state efforts to counter staff shortages.

Rally in Byron against Gaza war

Locals are being called to join in a rally at Byron Bay this Saturday at 2pm calling on the Australian government to take action against the deaths of Palestinians in the invasion of Gaza by Israel. 

Conciliation meeting over Broadwater floodplain development terminated

Richmond Valley Council refused a development application for a 60-lot residential development on flood-prone land on Rileys Hill Road, Broadwater, close to the Richmond River in October 2023. 

Marlivale Farm

Victoria Cosford Mac’s face lights up as he describes the rice fields near Nimbin, home to the family-owned Marlivale Farm....

Labor’s gas failure?

I can’t understand how Labor can commit to gas for the future while the UN Secretary-General said last year...

This morning’s onsite inspection over asbestos exposure fears involved NSW Workcover officials, Tweed Shire Council staff, the developer and landowner. The anti-McDonald’s graffiti on the building behind them expresses community opposition to the fast-food eatery development.

Luis Feliu

Work on the Murwillumbah site for a 24-hour McDonald’s fast-food outlet and IGA supermarket development has been stopped after concerns were raised that asbestos and other contaminants were being dug up and exposed, causing a public safety hazard.

Pieces of asbestos have been seen lying on the ground on the site at Tweed Valley Way where, according to a councillor, people ride or walk past every day, and the area has not been signposted as a contaminated site.

A NSW Workcover inspector joined Tweed Shire Council officers, the landowner and developer at an onsite inspection earlier this morning after it was revealed the asbestos had been exposed and workers operating machinery also were not wearing protective clothing.

Longtime opponent of the development Cr Gary Bagnall said ‘who knows if someone has already breathed in killer asbestos fibres from the McDonald’s site?’

‘There have been no warnings to the community, no signs, no news releases that the highly contaminated site could be a danger to the community,’ said Cr Bagnall, a Murwillumbah cafe owner who decided to run for Council last year after losing a campaign to stop the McDonald’s eatery.

Council’s chief planner Vince Connell told Echonetdaily that Council almost two weeks ago had requested the site owner to stop all work after officers had identified potential health and safety risks in the management of the asbestos and contaminants.

Mr Connell said the request for the work to stop till the concerns were addressed was adhered to and today’s inspection and onsite meeting aimed to make sure appropriate health and safety measures were put in place before work could restart.

Cr Bagnall told Echonetdaily he had alerted Council two weeks ago that workmen operating excavators on the site were not wearing protective clothing on a site known to be contaminated and had asked what precautions were in place.

Locals unaware

‘There are commercial premises on either side of the McDonald’s site with workers unaware of what’s happening there. People are walking, riding and driving past the site every day,’ he said.

‘The community need to know that the site is safe and that there are no airborne asbestos fibres floating in the wind.’

Cr Bagnall said a report last year on the site, where an old Norco butter factory and rural supplies outlet once stood, showed it was heavily contaminated with volatile chemicals and asbestos fibres ‘among other things’.

He says the development in Murwillumbah should never have been approved before completion of the contamination report, which found petroleum-based chemicals, asbestos and other toxic materials on the site.

The contamination report on the 6,500 square-metre site had suggested above-normal levels of contaminants including heavy metals, organochlorine pesticides, benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene and xylenes (BTEX), petroleum hydrocarbons and asbestos.

Cr Bagnall said an environmental scientist for the developer’s consultant has told Council that fragments of asbestos cement had been found on the site and would continue to be found, but that a remedial strategy was to minimise disturbance and capping of the ground.

The scientist for Cavvanbah Consulting said disturbance was unavoidable, but the risk was not considered to be high enough to warrant constant use of personal protective equipment and dust masks.

But the scientist said that if the dust could not be controlled, then occupational health and safety controls would need to be ‘stepped up’, with dust suppression measures and protective gear used.

Last year Cr Bagnall told Council that the management of the site to reduce risks to workers and the wider community would be an issue in terms of dust generated, which has the potential to contain harmful asbestos fibres and would have to be closely monitored.

The $3 million development was approved early last year, despite a big community campaign against it that included many food and cafe operators in the town.

It was supported by the Murwillumbah District Business Chamber, led by Toni Zuschke, as well as by mayor Barry Longland.

Cr Longland said at the time that if any issues with contamination arose, a construction certificate would not be issued till they had been resolved.

Late last year, Council’s environmental health unit ticked off a remediation action plan (RAP) prepared by a consultant for McDonald’s, which gave the green light to construction work.

The old Norco store for years supplied farming products such as fertilisers, agricultural chemicals, stock feed, fuel and machinery products. Petroleum fuel, including petrol and diesel, was also stored at the site in underground storage tanks.

The site is owned by a local developer but the McDonald’s eatery franchise there is owned by local businessman John Davis, who also owns three other McDonald’s franchises in Tweed shire: at the BP Chinderah, Tweed City and South Tweed.

Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Editorial – Just another unjust moment in history

Justice has been served and it’s a shit sandwich: whistleblower David McBride is now the first person to be sentenced to jail in Australia for reporting war crimes.

What do young people want and what do they think needs to change?

The ‘Your Voice, Our Future’ survey has been launched and is asking young people to put forward their views on what is important to them. 

Conciliation meeting over Broadwater floodplain development terminated

Richmond Valley Council refused a development application for a 60-lot residential development on flood-prone land on Rileys Hill Road, Broadwater, close to the Richmond River in October 2023. 

Pickleball takes Alstonville by storm as new courts open

Alstonville now boasts tournament-standard pickleball courts that opened to an enthusiastic crowd and players last Saturday despite the rain.