Outcome of Detailed Site Investigation into asbestos at Little Bay Beach
- Published Date
- News Topic
- Upgrades & Improvements, Beaches & Lifeguards
A Detailed Site Investigation (DSI) into asbestos containing material regularly being found at Little Bay Beach since 2020, has concluded the material is likely moving onto the beach area from three nearby gullies which contain old building materials likely dumped or buried many decades ago.
The outcomes are documented in a report published on Randwick City Council's website and in a letter sent to nearby Little Bay and Malabar property owners in January 2023.
The DSI recommends a range of ongoing short, medium and long-term actions to address the issue which was first brought to Council's attention in 2020 by a local resident.
Council took immediate steps at the time to address the issue by engaging expert consultants and advisors who attended the site and removed the identified materials.
Since this time Council has been regularly inspecting the beach and removing all asbestos containing material that continues to surface. In total, more than 2,000 pieces of asbestos containing material have been identified and removed - mostly the material is old fibro sheeting contained bonded non-friable asbestos that was commonly used as a building product.
In April 2021, Randwick City Council engaged expert consultants, RMA Group and Trinitas Group, to undertake a Detailed Site Investigation (DSI) of Little Bay Beach to better understand the source of asbestos containing material.
The DSI involved closing the beach for a week while a more intensive analysis took place by drilling 45 test pits to excavate soil samples for testing.
The DSI found 15 out of the 45 test pits contained asbestos –confirmed to be bonded, non-friable asbestos. No friable or trace asbestos was identified at any of the test pits.
The asbestos was mostly found near the gullies where stormwater flows to the beach.
The investigation noted that: “Due to the nature of site contamination by bonded asbestos fragments in soil and on sand surfaces, it is the opinion of Trinitas that asbestos contamination at the Site poses a potentially low health risk to site users.”
Council understand the community concern regarding asbestos and as such has taken an extremely diligent and conservative approach to the management of the beach.
An Interim Human Health Risk Assessment of the beach has also been completed by an accredited Human Health Risk Assessor who has identified that the beach, in its current state, does not pose an unacceptable health risk to ongoing and future users of the beach, or potentially sensitive populations in proximity to the beach.
The low risk means Council has been able to keep the beach open to general use while managing the ongoing removal of materials containing asbestos.
The DSI recommends a range of actions.
Short term (actions complete/ongoing):
- Continuing to undertake twice weekly air monitoring and emu picking by a competent licensed asbestos assessor. Following heavy rain and/or storms this will be undertaken as soon as practical. (ongoing)
- Issuing the Detailed Site Investigation Report to relevant stakeholders including Landcom, Department of Planning Industry and Environment, NSW Environmental Protection Authority, Crown Land and the Coast Golf Club. (done)
- Installing warning signs at the entrance to the beach. (done)
- Continuing to notify beach users and local residents via direct mail and through our website. (ongoing)
Medium term actions (not yet undertaken):
- Installing a sediment control barrier on the middle gully to reduce fragments entering the sand area.
- Considering a diving investigation to assess any underwater contamination.
- Advising adjacent land owners to conduct their own due diligence as a means to limit further asbestos containing material eroding onto the beach area.
Longer terms actions (not yet undertaken):
- Undertake remediation of the affected areas. Note these works are potentially extensive, disruptive and costly. As the affected areas are likely to involve multiple land managers this is seen as long-term option.
Randwick Council has been keeping residents informed about the issue regularly through letters to local residents, updates on its website and media reports.
Information sent to the community in January 2023:
- Letter to residents - 19 January 2023 - Update on Little Bay Beach asbestos investigation works PDF, 447.87 KB
- Community update - Detailed site investigation outcomes summary PDF, 1011.32 KB
If you'd like to read the full Detailed Site Investigation Report you download the documents here:
- Detailed Site Investigation Outcomes Report - Little Bay Beach PDF, 12593.12 KB
- Site Audit Statement - Little Bay Beach Asbestos Contamination PDF, 574.73 KB
For more information about this important project including frequently asked questions, refer to Council's Little Bay Beach Asbestos Management webpage.