Asbestos at Blackheath tip: new measures needed

A second report on asbestos mismanagement by council has recommended that the old Blackheath tip is properly fenced and security cameras installed to monitor illegal dumping.

Michael Tooma’s report examined the identification of contaminated material at the site on Ridgewell Road and access to that site once the presence of asbestos was known.

The report itself has not been released but the recommendations suggest that there have been problems, particularly with the use of contractors.

The recommendations – accepted by council at an extraordinary meeting on Tuesday night - include that council reviews its operations with contractors to ensure there is effective management of, and consultation and co-ordination with, contractors.

Mr Tooma also recommended that council gives training to all staff required to engage contractors and monitor their activities.

It should also review its contractor health and safety management processes and consider whether middle management is providing proper supervision of contractors’ health and safety.

This is the second interim report from Mr Tooma into asbestos handling by council.

His first report, on asbestos at Lawson car park, Mechanics Institute and council storage depot, found vast organisational failures which exposed workers to the deadly fibre. These included young workers who were using asbestos-containing material as a training exercise to practice lifting it in and out of vehicles.

There will be a third interim report from Mr Tooma which will cover the remaining terms of reference of the inquiry. Council anticipates it will receive that report by the end of this month.

A fourth and final report will bring the results of all of the investigations together and make final recommendations.

The mayor, Mark Greenhill, said: “The council must consider the investigation as a whole and the action to be taken by the council will be determined after all reports and, in particular, the final report, are available and have been considered fully.

“The interim reports cannot be considered in isolation from the final report, which will address council’s training of its staff and the policies under which they work.”

He also said once Mr Tooma has handed over all the reports, he will discuss the issue of their public release with council.

"My desire has always been for transparency."