Lake Macquarie City Council begins soil remediation work to remove asbestos and fuel contaminant next to Rathmines Scout Hall

Rathmines Scouts have revealed how 41 new tents - eight with price tags still attached - had to be incinerated because of asbestos contamination.

The new tents, plus two new barbecues and other items, had been purchased with insurance money acquired to replace the items stolen from the scouts' group in April 2018.

Group leader of 1st Rathmines Scouts, Chris Bathman, said the theft and incineration were part of an unfortunate string of incidents that had rocked the small group.

The trouble started early in 2017.

Lake Macquarie City Council, who owns the building, was conducting routine maintenance when it detected asbestos in the scout hall, which it leases to the scouts.

The scouts were locked out of the hall for nine months as council removed the contaminant.

Ms Bathman said the scouts were allowed back into the hall in October 2017, but the joy was short lived.

"We were robbed in April 2018, and when we finally got the insurance claim through we bought all new gear," Ms Bathman said.

"Two days after we put all of our new gear in the garage shed we got locked out again because council found asbestos in there, too."

All of the items in the garage had to be incinerated, she said.

Related reading:

The hall was closed in July 2018, and fencing erected around the building in August.

Council's remediation work continued, and the scouts were expecting to get the keys to the hall in January this year.

But a week before the hall re-opening date of January 21, the scouts learned that more asbestos, plus a "hot spot" of fuel residue, had been found in the soil adjacent to the hall.

A spokesperson for the council said the latest asbestos find and fuel contamination was detected by a hygienist following the clean up of the building's subfloor.

The scout hall was once the inflammable liquids store for the former RAAF air base in Rathmines.

The fuel "hot spot" was considered a potential concern because of its lead content, a spokesperson for the council said.

Ms Bathman said having the scouts' return to the hall postponed - again - was frustrating, but understandable.

"There's no asbestos left in the hall, but we can't access the hall because we'd have to walk across the fuel-contaminated car park," she said.

The good news is soil remediation work started at the site on Monday.

"Council has engaged a licensed asbestos contractor to complete these works, following heritage approval from the NSW government," the council spokesperson said.

"Remediation works are expected to be complete by the end of 2019, with maintenance works and painting to occur in early 2020."

The scout hall is expected to reopen in February, 2020.

Ms Bathman said the group was looking forward to returning to its spiritual home.

"We're very excited by that prospect," she said.

During the extended lock-out, the Rathmines Scouts have been sharing the Wangi Wangi Scout Hall.

Rathmines Scouts had scrimped and borrowed tents, and other equipment, to ensure that none of their children had gone without, Ms Bathman said.

"Forty-one tents is hard to replace in one lot, but we've fund-raised to buy four tents, and we borrow from other scouts groups. We wouldn't make a child miss out."

Ms Bathman said council had been working hard to solve a complex problem, and clearly "has the children's best interests at heart", while Wangi Wangi Scouts had been "fantastic" in accommodating her group.

In other news

Comments