State government considers abolishing the waste levy on up to 250 kilograms of asbestos waste, making it cheaper to do the right thing

COSTLY DANGER: Fencing and signs exclude locals from accessing a part of Bernie Goodwin Memorial Park, in Morisset, where asbestos was found buried near a playground. Picture: David Stewart
COSTLY DANGER: Fencing and signs exclude locals from accessing a part of Bernie Goodwin Memorial Park, in Morisset, where asbestos was found buried near a playground. Picture: David Stewart

The state government is set to abolish the waste levy on small amounts of asbestos.

The move would make it cheaper to dispose of up to 250 kilograms of asbestos at Awaba Waste Management facility.

Authorities hope removing the levy will reduce the incidence of dumping of asbestos waste in bushland.

The government has proposed removing the levy in its NSW Asbestos Waste Strategy 2019-2021.

The strategy outlines a suite of measures aimed at reducing illegal dumping and unsafe disposal of asbestos, and promoting lawful and appropriate disposal of the potentially dangerous material.

The proposal has been welcomed by Lake Macquarie City Council.

"The state government is considering removing the waste levy from separated, bonded and wrapped asbestos materials delivered to a lawful landfill," a spokesperson for the council said.

"The EPA has commissioned a cost benefit analysis to inform the decision to remove the waste levy from separated bonded asbestos and we await the outcome."

The 2019-20 waste levy rate for asbestos is $143.60 per tonne in metropolitan areas.

The rate is $82.70 per tonne in regional areas.

Lake Macquarie and the Central Coast are considered metropolitan areas.

"The current fee to dispose of asbestos at Awaba Waste Management Facility is $405 per tonne (including GST). This includes the $143.60 waste levy," the council spokesperson said.

It remains to be seen whether or not local councils can, or will, reduce the fees they charge for disposing of asbestos waste.

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In recent years, the Hunter Central Coast Regional Illegal Dumping (RID) Squad has found asbestos illegally dumped in multiple local bushland locations.

Wyee has proved a hot spot for asbestos dumping, and there was one 10-tonne haul of the stuff in a street in Morisset in April.

Local Government NSW president Linda Scott said illegal dumping of asbestos was a scourge facing many local government areas, exacerbated by restrictive regulations and levy fees that made it costly to do the right thing.

"LGNSW has been calling on government to remove the levy from small amounts of asbestos waste since it was introduced in 2008, and we're really delighted our advocacy has delivered this great result," Cr Scott said.

"Ever since the government introduced the levy councils have seen a noticeable spike in illegal dumping of asbestos as well as other waste.

"This is a major cost for councils which have the task and bear the cost of safely cleaning it up - and most importantly, it poses a serious health risk to communities."

Exposure to disturbed asbestos can cause mesothelioma and other serious respiratory problems.

Locals wishing to dispose of asbestos waste at Awaba Waste Management Facility should first check the council website to see what's required.

A booking with a minimum of 24 hours' notice must be given, the council spokesperson said.

And the asbestos must be separated from other waste, kept wet to avoid the creation of dust, and be wrapped in heavy-duty plastic or other approved wrapping system.

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