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Domremy College in Sydney’s Five Dock (School website)

A Catholic school in Sydney was closed yesterday after asbestos-contaminated garden mulch was discovered on its grounds during a search for the toxin strewn across dozens of public spaces in New South Wales. Source: The Catholic Weekly.

Domremy Catholic College in Five Dock is one of a number of Catholic sites joining a growing list of nearly 50 places where the cancer-causing material has been found since January, sparking a criminal investigation and remediation efforts across the state.

The contamination crisis began when the banned substance was found in garden mulch at a playground in Rozelle Parklands in Sydney’s inner west in early January.

In nearly all cases the asbestos has been in bonded, not friable form, which means it has been mixed with cement or other hard bonding materials and likely to be a low health risk if in good condition.

St Luke’s Catholic College in Marsden Park notified parents it would close for a week after mulch there returned a positive asbestos test on February 18, while St Mary MacKillop Catholic parish in Oran Park and St John of God Richmond Hospital have had areas secured after positive tests.

A statement from Sydney Catholic Schools said Domremy College was notified by the NSW Environmental Protection Authority that its mulch samples returned a positive reading for bonded asbestos. The school was expected to reopen to students today. 

St Michael’s Catholic Primary School in Daceyville also had mulch tested but no contamination was found.

St John of God Richmond Hospital said in a statement that “small amounts” of bonded asbestos were located within recently landscaped gardens around its redevelopment site.

Aged care facilities, supermarkets and transport development sites have also used the contaminated recycled mulch the EPA says was produced by Greenlife Resource Recovery.

The company based in southwest Sydney denies including asbestos, as well as other construction and demolition materials which have also been found, in its mulch product.


Asbestos crisis closes Domremy Catholic College, with other Catholic sites affected (The Catholic Weekly)