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Asbestos found in several Sydney parks prompts immediate closures

The worrying find comes weeks after asbestos was discovered at a children's playground in Rozelle.

Fragments of asbestos have been detected in three additional Sydney parks following an investigation, just weeks after traces of it were first discovered at the Rozelle Parklands last month.

Located in the Inner West, the children's playground — which was developed as part of the troubled Rozelle Interchange, dubbed "spaghetti junction" by frustrated locals — was closed just over three weeks after it opened due to contaminated mulch being found. The worrying discovery led to immediate testing of five other park sites.

Investigations "found our mulch suppliers may have received supplies of contaminated mulch," the City of Sydney told Yahoo News on Monday.

Playground at Victoria park in Broadway where asbestos was found.
Bonded asbestos was found in contaminated mulch used at Victoria Park in Broadway. Source: Google Images

Asbestos found in three Sydney parks

Test results show that contaminated mulch was used in Harmony Park in Surry Hills. It contained friable asbestos, which is considered high risk and can be easily crushed into a powder. The park will now be fenced off and temporarily closed for it to be cleaned.

Meanwhile, bonded asbestos, which NSW Health considers as having low-to-negligible risk, was also found at Victoria Park at Broadway and Belmore Park near Central Station. "Fences and signs will be installed immediately around mulched areas and clean-up crews will get to work," the City of Sydney said.

Prince Alfred Park in Surry Hills and Pope Paul VI Reserve in Glebe were also tested, however, there was no detection of asbestos. Testing will continue at other parks in its local area, council said.

City of Sydney council will "continue to work with the EPA and will share more information when it comes to hand", it said in a statement. The council said the recycled mulch product is only used in garden beds and under trees, not in playgrounds.

Which parks are contaminated?

  • Harmony Park in Surry Hills

  • Victoria Park at Broadway

  • Belmore Park near Central Station

Sign saying the playground is closed at Rozelle Parklands after asbestos was found.
Asbestos was first discovered at the playground at Rozelle Parklands last month. Source: AAP

'More contamination discoveries were inevitable'

After the discovery of asbestos at the Rozelle Interchange, Greens MP Sue Higginson said it "was just the tip of the iceberg" and that "more contamination discoveries were inevitable," the ABC reported.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said he was "shocked" by the revelations of widespread contamination.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Sydney, asbestos was reportedly discovered in mulch used at Liverpool West Public School and Campbelltown Hospital in Sydney's south-west. More than 100 sites across Sydney have been tested by the EPA, with at least 13 returning a positive result for bonded asbestos.

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