Asbestos causes health alert at old Gillies factory

THE public health risk following yesterday’s asbestos incident at the old Gillies factory in Garsed Street, Bendigo has residents calling for an urgent solution.

The Environment Protection Authority, Bendigo police and Worksafe investigated the site after uncontained asbestos was found near the factory. 

The street was re-opened about 3pm, after all traces were removed. 

Sergeant Peter Beaman said the site had been deemed safe by Worksafe and the fire brigade after a fire six months ago, under the proviso that it was not disturbed.

But several young people have since broken into the vacant factory and thrown asbestos -ridden roof tiles on to the road, which were then driven over by cars.  This caused the contamination yesterday. 

“It’s up to the council and the owner to work it out – I don’t know what else we can do,” Sergeant Beaman said. 

“It’s locked up and no-one is supposed to be in there, but we are still called out there regularly. I can’t force the owners’ hand (to clean it up) but if I lived in the area, I’d be more concerned.”

Residents bordering the property said they were not notified of yesterday’s situation, despite council claiming it had verbally notified all nearby residents. 

They say vandalism and noise concerns in the unsecured building caused frustration, and the asbestos threat was “particularly concerning”. 

“It definitely makes you worry when it’s not only jeopardising quality of life but life itself,” one resident, who did not want to be named, said. “The owners make no effort to secure it so obviously kids are going to take advantage of that.” One resident, who has lived in a nearby house for 25 years, said he had been dealing with “the scum of Bendigo” damaging his street for more than five years. 

“They just need to tear it down because this was a nice street before that became vacant,” he said. 

“It’s a haven for them and we just see them all the time and there doesn’t seem to be any answers.”

The City of Greater Bendigo will be in touch with the two site owners, whose names have not been released, to ensure the site is managed correctly.

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