The Asbestos Diseases Foundation of Australia has called for the relocation of an Aboriginal community, after a report obtained by SBS revealed widespread asbestos contamination.
ADFA President, Barry Robson said Wallaga Lake Village residents face a significant health risk.
“The trifecta of the deadliest asbestos fibres – Amosite, Chrysotile and Crocidolite have been found in this community,” Mr Robson told SBS\’ Living Black program.
“I don\’t think there is another community that I\’ve seen in the years that I\’ve been involved in the asbestos campaigns to find in people\’s front yards and back yards that the trifecta is there.
“This community for too long has been exposed to these fibres. So they should be relocated,” Mr Robson said.
Last month, the Living Black program revealed the extent of asbestos contamination in the Wallaga Lake Village.
It was found in front yards, under houses and children play areas.
Test results from soil samples taken from various sites in the community show the presence of Amosite, Chrysotile and Chrisidolite.
\’Urgent action needed\’
The Federal Member for Eden-Monaro, Mike Kelly visited Wallaga Lake Village on Friday to inspect the extent of asbestos contamination first-hand.
The MP donned a mask before climbing under the Merrimans Aboriginal Land Council building.
The contamination report confirmed the presence of all three forms of the deadly asbestos fibres under the building.
“I understand what sort of suffering and tragedies can result from mishandling this issue and I\’m really determined that we don\’t repeat those mistakes of the past.
We need some urgent action here now,” Mr Kelly told Living Black.
Shadow Federal Parliamentary Secretary for Indigenous Affairs, Marise Payne said the Federal Government shouldn’t leave the clean-up to state authorities and the local Aboriginal Council.
“The presence of asbestos at Wallaga Lake potentially represents a grave health risk to all those who live there,” Senator Payne said.
“Every resident – from young children to their parents and the elderly – deserve to know what, if anything, the Federal Government is doing to protect their health from the dangers of asbestos.
“The Federal Government must commit to decisive action and work urgently together with state and local authorities to protect this community and clean up asbestos from the area,” Senator Payne said.
Ron Nye from the Merrimans Aboriginal Lands Council said the community needs help from both State and Federal authorities.
“This community cannot do it on its own.
We need help from outside, and if people have to be relocated for a short time or six months or whatever, that all comes at a cost,” Mr Nye told Living Black.
Health checks slated
The Federal MP is now calling on health checks for residents of Wallaga Lake Village.
Mr Kelly said that the names of CDEP workers who were involved in renovations and demolitions of buildings containing asbestos should also be revealed.
“Work should be happening right now to reduce the hazard that exists that we know of, to reduce exposure and also to get a good baseline on the situation of the health of the community as well,” the MP said.
“There may have been a Commonwealth program relating to what was happening in the community but what we have now is a disposal issue, a hazard management issue and also monitoring the health levels of the community.
“That capability resides principally with the state authorities of course,” Mr Kelly told Living Black.
The ADFA said all residents and workers in the community should be registered with the NSW Dust Diseases Board.
“Each member of the community should now be X-rayed, their lung function test be taken and kept on a central register.
Maybe ten years from now or 20 or 30 people might happen to come down with an asbestos disease and this way at least there is a record of them being in this community,” Mr Robson said.
The NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change in conjunction with Greater Southern Health conducted their own sample tests last week.
The NSW Government has said it is waiting for those results before taking further action.
The New South Wales Opposition is calling for all documents on Wallaga Lake Village to be released.