RATEPAYERS will fork out at least $850,000 following a Kingston council blunder that led to asbestos-ridden soil dumped in a public park.
As an independent investigation gets underway, Leader has been told a council employee gave the green light to shift the soil from a Glenola Rd, Chelsea site to the town’s Bicentennial Park despite being told by a sub contractor he feared it contained asbestos.
Chief executive John Nevins wouldn’t say whether council employees were at fault, but told Leader the investigation would “identify any breakdown of procedures”.
Mr Nevins said that $90,000 of the $850,000 clean-up bill could have been avoided if the soil had not been dumped at the Chelsea park.
“It is estimated that transporting the soil to Bicentennial Park, erecting fencing, watering the soil mounds, covering the soil and planting new grass in the affected area comprised approximately $90,000 of these costs and could have been avoided,” Mr Nevins said.
He said council would ask the Department of Education to contribute to the costs because the Glenola Rd site was owned by the department and leased to Kingston.
The extra cost of the current investigation by an independent expert has not yet been established.
KIDS PLAYED IN ASBESTOS AFTER PARK BLUNDER
In November Leader revealed children had been playing in the asbestos-contaminated soil at Bicentennial Park before council realized its blunder and fenced off the area.
They then tested the soil at the Glenola Rd site, earmarked for the new Chelsea Kindergarten, and found small amounts of asbestos and heavy metals in the surface fill material.
Removal of that contaminated soil was scheduled for completion this month during the school holidays.
Mr Nevins said it had been covered and watered in line with stringent safety standards.
The contaminated soil was fully removed from Bicentennial Park by December 16.
“Council notified EPA and WorkSafe regarding both sites and have complied with asbestos removal guidelines,” Mr Nevins said.
“This has included appointing independent hygienists to oversee licensed asbestos removalists.
“Council also erected public signage to alert the community and sent information bulletins to surrounding residents at both sites to keep them informed.”
A WorkSafe spokesman confirmed they had attended and were satisfied appropriate action had been taken.