Work on the new $13 million headquarters for the Tweed-Byron police command at Tweed Heads was halted this week after a pile of asbestos was found during excavation of the site.
The contaminated building material now has to be removed under state health and safety guidelines, and is expected to delay the work on the new police station for weeks, if not months.
The unexpected find could also add hundreds of thousands of dollars to the overall cost of the building in Wharf Street, according to Tweed MP Geoff Provest.
The project’s contractor, Brookfield Global Integrated Solutions, is now working on a remediation plan in conjunction with NSW Police Force’s property group.
Mr Provest told media he was concerned about a major cost blowout and lengthy delay.
He said builders who had demolished old buildings on the site in the 1970s had buried the toxic material, and it was unknown how much of it was dumped, nor how much contaminated soil would have to be removed.
‘It was then common practice to dig a big hole, dump it all in and then fill it back up again,’ Mr Provest told APN Media.
The building of the new police station for Tweed Heads and local command HQ was due for completion by mid 2017.
Approval for the site in October 2014 followed years of political argy-bargy, with several sites proposed, including the beach-front station at Kingscliff.
The Joint Regional Planning Panel (JRPP) approved the Tweed Heads site after lobbying by many National Party politicians and supporters against the Kingscliff location, favoured by some senior police.
Tweed shire Cr Carolyn Byrne, who lives next door to the Kingscliff station, campaigned strongly against the Kingscliff location.
Mr Provest at the time hailed the approval as a ‘sensible compromise’.
Northern region JRPP chair Garry West, a former state police minister, said the design for the three-storey building in Wharf Street met the amenity of the streetscape and added to the overall sense of security to the community.