Park asbestos scare widens as test results revealed

Three more suburban parks have been caught up in an asbestos scare that has now spread to 10 sites across three council areas in Melbourne.

The Environment Protection Authority is investigating after the cancer-causing substance was found at parks within Hobsons Bay and Merri-bek council areas.

On Tuesday, the authority revealed it had received new reports of material likely to contain traces of asbestos in three other parks.

Mulch at a park in Melbourne
The source of mulch at parks and reserves where asbestos has been found is under investigation.

They are garden beds near a bowls club at Dennis Reserve in Williamstown, Altona Coastal Park and Fitzgerald Square Reserve in Sunshine West, which is part of Brimbank City Council.

The authority said it was continuing to investigate sources of material and had received queries related to residential properties but public areas were its priority.

It was also working with Hobsons Bay City Council on potential sources of mulch, which it said might have been delivered to parks at Altona North as far back as 2017.

Lab results on Tuesday afternoon confirmed asbestos was found at PA Burns Reserve at Altona, GJ Hosken Reserve at Altona North and Crofts Reserve at Altona North.

Inspectors previously confirmed asbestos was found at the under-construction park at Hosken Reserve at North Coburg, the PJ Lynch Reserve at Altona North and the Donald McLean Reserve at Spotswood.

Inspectors were still awaiting test results for Shore Reserve at Pascoe Vale South as of Tuesday night.

The EPA's Duncan Pendrigh
The EPA's Duncan Pendrigh says there is no evidence the asbestos was introduced in mulch deliveries.

The regulator is investigating the source of mulch at parks and reserves where asbestos has been found.

However, it has previously said there was no evidence asbestos was being introduced to the parks through mulch deliveries, like the contaminated mulch crisis in NSW.

The pieces of confirmed asbestos found at the Melbourne parks so far have been bonded asbestos, rather than the more dangerous friable asbestos.

Bonded asbestos is considered low-risk for people who come into contact with it, unless fibres are released into the air because of damage or bad weather, the regulator said.

It comes as a pile of burning rubbish suspected of being contaminated with asbestos was found on a roadside at Rossmore in outer Sydney.

It was found about 15 minutes away from tips that accept asbestos.

The material has been found in recycled mulch at some 70 sites in Sydney this year, prompting schools and parks to close.

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