Union members have voted to ban construction work at a former James Hardie asbestos manufacturing site in Sydney’s west.
Unions NSW have voted for an interim ‘green ban’ – a form of environmental strike action – on work at the site, which they claim is full of asbestos. The vote means none of the organisation’s 6,000 members will set foot on the site until concerns regarding asbestos have been addressed.
Plans on the part of German firm Remondis to build a waste treatment at the site, which is located at Camellia, near Parramatta, have run into community opposition over fears about asbestos contamination.
Although the company has indicated in media reports that the proposal would involve building on top of a concrete slab which would cover the site, it has acknowledged that some sections would still have to be dug up.
On Thursday, Tim Gauci, a lawyer at plaintiff law firm Slater and Gordon said the site remained dangerous and that hundreds of people could be exposed to the ‘deadly dust’ if the site is dug up without proper remediation work. Gauci’s firm has taken action for thousands of Australians diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases.
The union action has won the support of state opposition leader Linda Burney, who says the government should abandon current plans for the site’s development.
“Barry O’Farrell is the last person in Sydney who thinks it’s a plausible idea to excavate a former James Hardie asbestos site,” Burney says.
O’Farrell, however, says the government is powerless to intervene.
“It would be far better used in a safer way for residential purposes than the risks that some have raised about the current proposal,” state premier Barry O’Farrell told reporters in Sydney according to a report on Australian Associated Press. “But I just want to point out that this application was lodged under the former government’s Part 3A provisions. It’s an application that is currently before the independent Planning Assessment Commission. It is not an application the state government can intervene on.”