Don’t touch, don’t dig, don’t go there. That’s the warning from Hornsby Council after a decades-old dump of toxic asbestos was recently discovered on its bushy 34 hectare Westleigh site.
Mountain bikers and walkers especially are being urged to keep away from the closed site, bought from Sydney Water last June, until it’s clear.
“Council has not yet opened the site to the public – it remains closed like it was when Sydney Water owned it,” Hornsby Shire Mayor Steve Russell said.
“However closing the site never helped Sydney Water keep people away from it so we at least want you to understand the risk. If you go to the site, make sure you do not pick up any objects that look man-made and do not disturb the ground. Digging is definitely a bad idea.”
The asbestos is in bonded form so it cannot be breathed in, and poses little risk to people or animals, but should still be avoided.
Together with WorkCover, Council has put a plan into place over December and January to clear the site, including an emu bob, “in which a line of people walks across the site, scanning the site so no pieces are missed.”
Safety signs have also been put up. “Until it has been cleared, our primary advice is for people to avoid the site,” Mayor Russell said. “A small risk is still a risk and the safest option is to simply stay away for the time being.”
Eventually the site will be used for recreational purposes including walking, picnic spots and biking.