Contamination shuts down Sydney street

By | December 10, 2020

The family evacuated from their home north of Sydney have told of their “heartbreak” after an asbestos contamination forced the street into lockdown.

Hazmat crews were called to Bilgola Plateau after residents saw the particles on Monday afternoon.

A homeowner hired two private cleaning contractors to clean their asbestos-covered roof, but the high pressure water sent the fibres into the air and onto other properties in Mariposa Road.

Asha Hobbis, a tenant at one of the properties, described the experience that left her family temporarily living at a caravan park as “heartbreaking”.

The mother of two, 42, said the family had not yet been told when they could return home.

“It’s challenging and very emotional. My children are beside themselves and just want to go home,” Mrs Hobbis told NCA NewsWire.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking, and I can’t tell you how terrible we all feel.

“It has definitely been very, very hard to cope with and to know what to do next. One minute you’re crying and the next you look at the positive that we’re all together.”

When Mrs Hobbis returned home on Monday afternoon, she said the house looked like it was covered in snow.

“I got home about 1.30pm and there was a white substance on the driveway, all over the letterbox, the dog bed … everything was just covered in it,” she said.

“There was no concept to the enormity of it. It was just unbelievable.

“I knew we wouldn’t be able to stay in the property, assuming it would be very short term or for the night.”

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As a result of the contamination, she said a next-door neighbour would need to restore their entire garden, roof and decking, and other close residents could not go outside into their gardens or use their pools. Pets also needed veterinary care.

“It’s bad enough we’ve been displaced, but what was really hard is that the two weeks before Christmas we’re getting rejections from insurance companies.

“It’s like any crisis, the information comes to us sporadically and because I’m the tenant it tends to be me that’s the last person to know.”

NSW Fire and Rescue declared a portion of the street a “hot zone” after Monday’s contamination.

As of Tuesday, there were three houses and nine cars under lockdown.

To ensure the street is safe, air monitoring systems and drain blocks have been put in place.

A SafeWork spokesman would not comment on any possible penalty for the contractors.

“Asbestos on affected properties is currently being contained by licensed asbestos assessors until further remediation and clean-up can occur. SafeWork‘s investigation is ongoing,” the spokesman said.

Licenced asbestos assessor Jonathan Simnett said crews were in the process of completing their render safe duties.

“We’re about to complete that obligation with Fire and Rescue NSW today,” he said.

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