Council cleared on some investigations

The Environment Protection Authority has discontinued its investigation into council's asbestos management at a range of locations, but SafeWork NSW may still prosecute on Lawson carpark.

In a statement on Tuesday, council said "the EPA told council the decision was made after an extensive investigation and review of all available evidence".

Asbestos warning at Lawson carpark. File photo.

Asbestos warning at Lawson carpark. File photo.

An EPA spokesman confirmed "the media release is accurate," but could not give more details before the press deadline.

A SafeWork NSW spokesman said it has also "completed its investigation into Katoomba Tip and decided no prosecution action will be taken". But added "SafeWork's prosecutions of the council in relation to the Lawson carpark site and council facility in Park Street, Lawson remain on foot".

The EPA investigated council's management/disposal of asbestos waste at the highway at Lawson; Park Street, Lawson; and other locations at Katoomba, Valley Heights and Lapstone. The EPA advised SafeWork NSW and the Commissioner of the Blue Mountains Public Inquiry the investigation has been discontinued.

The EPA letter to council acknowledged CEO Dr Rosemary Dillon and the "co-operation of Blue Mountains City Council, you and your staff during the EPA's investigation".

Council statement:

16 September 2019

EPA and SafeWork NSW discontinue investigations into Blue Mountains City Council

The Environment Protection Authority has discontinued its investigation into the management and disposal of asbestos waste by Blue Mountains City Council at a range of locations.

The EPA advised Council today that the decision had been made "after an extensive investigation and review of all available evidence".

This follows notification from SafeWork NSW last week, that it had completed its investigation relating to the Katoomba Resource Recovery and Waste Management Facility and had decided that no action was to be taken.

The EPA investigated Council's management and disposal of asbestos waste at locations on the Great Western Highway, Lawson; Park Street, Lawson; and other locations at Katoomba, Valley Heights and Lapstone.

The EPA stated it had advised both SafeWork NSW and the Commissioner of the Blue Mountains Public Inquiry that it had decided to discontinue its investigation.

It also stated in the letter to Dr Dillon: "I would like to acknowledge the co-operation of Blue Mountains City Council, you and your staff during the EPA's investigation."

SafeWork NSW advised Council last week that it had completed an investigation into whether a breach of the work health and safety legislation occurred at the Katoomba Resource Recovery and Waste Management Facility. In a letter to Council, SafeWork NSW said they had carefully reviewed all the information and evidence available and determined that no legal proceedings would be commenced against the Council in relation to this matter.

Mayor Mark Greenhill said he welcomed the advice from both EPA and SafeWork NSW.

"I want to thank Council's Chief Executive Officer, Dr Rosemary Dillon, and her team for all their hard work during the investigations," Cr Greenhill said.

"However, there have been comments made outside the Council workforce that have not made this process any easier and I hope that they will now cease."

Council issued the following statement following Gazette queries about Lawson:

  • SafeWork NSW has completed its investigation in relation to Katoomba Resource Recovery and Waste Management Facility and determined that no action will be taken.
  • SafeWork NSW has also determined that Council is eligible to enter into an Enforceable Undertaking (EU) in relation to operational matters that occurred between November 2016 and August 2017 at 283 Great Western Highway, Lawson, and 2-6 Park Street, Lawson that are the subject of prosecutions now before the Local Court of NSW. This option is available to many parties in New South Wales who are alleged to have breached the WHS Act.
  • Council is now preparing to submit a proposal concerning the content of the proposed EU, for SafeWork's consideration. SafeWork will in due course determine if the EU proposal is acceptable.
  • Council is working to ensure that the EU proposal is aligned with Council's commitment to implementing a fair and just culture across the organisation and delivering improved safety outcomes for staff, the organisation and our community.
  • If an EU is entered into, in accordance with the normal process, the current prosecutions against Council would be discontinued.