Concerns have arisen about residents living near an old James Hardie-operated mine on Australia’s New South Wales North Coast who are still being affected by the mine despite the fact that it closed nearly 30 years ago.
Environmental groups who’ve surveyed the area recently told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that vehicles using the area’s gravel roads are spreading asbestos tailings and residents in the area are being “blanketed with asbestos dust.”
Spokesman John Tredrea of the Nimbin Environmental Centre told the news network that logging trucks draw up plumes of the asbestos-contaminated dust from the Baryulgil mine near Grafton. During the days before asbestos was deemed dangerous, it was normal practice to use asbestos-containing materials for road construction. That’s the case with the roads near the Baryulgil mine, which operated from 1950-1979.
Mr. Tredrea says residents, tourist vehicles and animals are being blanketed.
“People on their way to Washpool World Heritage National Park, if they happen to be behind a logging truck – the plume of dust being sucked off the road is massive,” he said. “It’s 10 times wider than the truck itself. It is a major can of worms.”
Tredrea also noted that indigenous peoples who live in the area are being greatly affected by the dust. “I’ve been to Aboriginal communities out there where they showed me their school photographs and the whole ground is blue,” he added.