Quarry's asbestos woes go on trial

GYMPIE’S asbestos-plagued Monkland Quarry goes on trial tomorrow, with discussions involving representatives of the State Government’s Mines and Workplace Health and Safety agencies.

Despite asbestos levels officially described as “extremely low”, Gympie Region councillors this week expressed their concerns the region faces the potential loss of a “very valuable” road building asset.

Council engineering director Bob Fredman said it was accepted the quarry suffered from “naturally occurring asbestos in very small quantities”.

The quarry was closed, at least temporarily, last month.

Other government agencies involved in assessing it include Queensland Health and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, he said.

“Bearing in mind the workers’ and the public’s health, levels are very low and we face the potential loss of an asset to council, which is very, very valuable.”

A report to this week’s council Works and Services Committee said council could only continue to operate the quarry if it was able to demonstrate a safety management system reflecting “an acceptably low level of risk”.

“At this point, operations have been suspended following a visit by the acting chief inspector of mines and a subsequent inspection by a mines-commissioned ‘recognised state geological expert’.”

Quarry operations were suspended on August 6 “with a view to effecting actions that will ensure that persons at the mine, persons handling the products supplied by the mine and the public generally are protected from the effects of asbestos”, the report said.

“Our existing safety management system broadly calls for dust monitoring, medicals on workers at the mine, inspection of blown rock for traces of contamination, removal and disposal of contaminated material to a safe site.”

Gympie Times

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