A Land Development Agency contractor has trucked in an unknown amount of asbestos to the prestigious Kingston Foreshore, where land is being prepared for a mixed use development.

Kingston resident Murray Upton has been questioning why WorkCover closed the worksite earlier this month.

He said after more than two years work on the site involving extensive earthworks and dust problems, the closure required a full explanation, including why asbestos was not found during extensive surveys of the area.

North of Eyre Street and west of The Causeway, the 2.68ha site is vacant and a future mixed-use and urban area.

The agency said earlier surveys did identify trace amounts of asbestos.

As well as that discovery, a contractor responsible for civil works brought in fill material with trace amounts of asbestos which was being tested to see how much asbestos was present.

Preliminary tests indicated it had come from building demolition waste.

Agency environmental compliance officers identified the asbestos and implemented environmental control measures.

”The prohibition notice was placed by Worksafe on December 13 and lifted on December 15 following a review of the Environmental Management Plan and the Occupational Health and Safety Plan applicable to the site,” the agency said.

Civil works had resumed on site and construction of roads and landscaping should be completed by March 2012 as per the program.

The agency did not specify the source of the asbestos.

Opposition Leader Zed Seselja said this wasn’t the first time asbestos contamination had been discovered.

”We had Molonglo, where tens of thousands of tonnes of contaminated soil was discovered directly under the proposed site for a pond.

”More recently, we had the Lyneham oval situation, where we found that asbestos had not only been uncovered but had been moved to form part of the earthworks for the Gungahlin Drive Extension.

”What is going wrong with our planning and promotion that we are not better prepared, that developers not forewarned, and that proper remediation is done before work commences?” he asked.

An agency spokesman said the contaminated material was in situ and being monitored. Remedial action and costings were being prepared and extensive air monitoring surveys throughout construction at Kingston had not shown ”health criteria” had been exceeded.

Kingston was not regarded as an asbestos dump site.

Canberra Times, 21 December 2011, by John Thistleton

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