Soil ban over asbestos in park

Soil contaminated with asbestos in a suburban park near a primary school has forced Auckland Council to review its practices.

The parks department says it will not accept fill from private properties in the near future.

Glendowie resident John Butcher was alarmed to see large areas of Glendowie Park cordoned off on November 10 while the soil was being tested for asbestos.

The fenced-off area is 30m from the front gate of Glendowie Primary School, which his children attend.

According to Auckland Council, about 80 cubic metres of topsoil was trucked to the park from a private property on October 24 and 25.

It was levelled for landscaping on October 25, Auckland Council local and sports parks manager Mark Bowater said.

But Butcher recalls the dirt pile being at the park for at least three to four days before it was levelled.

Independent public health physician Dr Francesca Kelly visited the park last Thursday.

She said initial sampling indicated occasional chunks of building material in the top soil which had a presence of chrysotile (white asbestos).

"There is minimal risk of fibres being inhaled where materials are damp or have been contained."

Kelly says even if a child played directly on the affected area, the amount of inhalable fibre would be too low to present a significant health risk.

Council workers visited Glendowie Primary School to ensure staff were aware of the situation, and said they would keep the community informed.

Butcher was relieved by the results but questioned why there were no safeguards in place to prevent it from happening.

"Why wasn't the soil tested before it was deposited in a park?"

East And Bays Courier