A Cautionary Tale About Asbestos Disposal

May 21, 2021

In this day and age, and with all the media coverage the topic has received, you would think that every New Zealander would be aware of the potential dangers of asbestos. Companies like ours have been warning of the possible hazards for many years and offering our professional services to alleviate any asbestos-related issue. So it came as something of a shock to read a news article that makes it clear that not everyone is as serious as we are about asbestos disposal in NZ. 

It happened late last year when three loads of building waste contaminated with asbestos were transported to the Waiheke Community Resource Recycling Park from two separate building sites on the island. You read it right. Asbestos dumped in a recycling park! The dumping incidents took place over two days but thankfully, the staff at the Waiheke Community Resource Recycling Park were quick to identify the asbestos material and took the appropriate steps to reduce the risk to the public. The facility was temporarily closed and a thorough cleanup began.

Those steps were very expensive ones. The cost to clean up the asbestos at the park for the first dumping incident was $17,000! Thankfully, ratepayers didn’t have to pick up the bill. The cost was passed onto the person responsible for the dumping. Plus, because there was asbestos involved, a further cleanup and pick up was required at the building sites and that cost someone an additional $20,000. If the people at the building sites had done the right thing in the first instant, and contacted asbestos specialists like us, they would have paid much, much less.   

We’re not sure why someone chose to dispose of the contaminated material at the recycling park in the first place. Was it ignorance? Laziness? Trying to save a few dollars by not engaging the services of a professional asbestos disposal company? Whatever the reason, it just goes to show that there is still a lax attitude towards asbestos disposal in New Zealand - among certain sections of the community, anyway.  

We should be thankful that staff at the Waiheke Community Resource Recycling Park were so quick to pick up on the danger. And it’s a reminder that if people dumped the building material not knowing that it might contain asbestos, then some education about the substance is still required. A look at this page on our website is a very good place to start!