Councils confirm park safety following asbestos discoveries

(Dan Himbrechts/AAP)

Both Melton and Moorabool councils have assured residents that their public spaces are safe, after traces of asbestos were discovered in mulch in several parks in the west and north of Melbourne.

As of Friday April 12, traces of asbestos had been found in garden material in parks in the council areas of Hobsons Bay, Brimbank and Merri-bek.

In response to the discovery of asbestos in public spaces, the Environment Protection Authority has urged councils across the state to ensure they are complying with appropriate environmental standards.

The EPA’s director of regulatory services Duncan Perndigh said councils have a responsibility to maintain strong controls to prevent contamination.

“I urge the community to watch out for anyone offering garden mulch who can’t demonstrate they follow appropriate high standards and quality checks to avoid contamination,” he said.

“If the offer seems too good to be true, be wary of it.”

Moorabool council acting chief executive Leigh McCallum said he was confident environmental standards were being adhered to in the shire.

“Our parks and gardens team use recycled mulch produced from trees [and] branches that are mulched through our tree crew chipping machine,” he said.

“To date, we have not had an issue with asbestos in our mulch.”

Melton council director of city delivery Neil Whiteside said Melton works with quality contractors across the municipality and that inspections are carried out each quarter.

“More than 500 cubic metres of mulch is generated from our tree maintenance program each year, stored in a secure compound and returned to our parks and gardens,” he said.

“Within larger parks and playgrounds, we use commercially milled pine bark material that is compliant with Australian standards.”

Mulch suspected to contain asbestos or illegal dumping of materials can be reported to the EPA’s contact centre.