Deadly find hidden in suburban backyard soil triggers $200,000 fine

The heavy penalty has prompted a warning to companies who do the wrong thing about the alarming risks to the community

An aerial shot showing a truck dumping contaminated soil at the Rossmore property.
Two men were fined $200,000 and $180,000 over dumping contaminated waste at a Rossmore property from a construction site in Campsie. Source: EPA

At first glance, this drone image appears to show a truck simply dumping a load of soil behind a suburban home. Worryingly, authorities later discovered there were deadly fibres hidden in the load.

The incident has prompted a warning from the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) that the illegal dumping of asbestos “cannot be tolerated” and offenders will be caught and punished.

On Friday, the EPA revealed it had successfully prosecuted the man who illegally dumped waste in that Western Sydney backyard, resulting in a $200,000 fine. It warned the dumping of asbestos is “completely unacceptable”.

“The complete disregard for the environment and the community displayed here cannot be tolerated and it is pleasing to see that all parties involved in this investigation have now been before the court,” its executive director of regulatory operations Jason Gordon said.

The front of the Rossmore home where the asbestos was illegally dumped. A truck is parked next to it.
It looked like an ordinary home, but deep into the backyard investigators made a deadly find. Source: NSW EPA

Drone footage taken by the NSW Environment Protection Agency shows the street where the dumping occurred is lined with houses and small agricultural plots. After the soil has been dumped, a large excavator can be seen spreading it across the ground.

Asbestos can be hidden in soil and only discovered after testing. Breathing in asbestos particles has been linked to mesothelioma, lung cancer, and other non-malignant lung diseases including asbestosis. Because of its risk to the community, only licensed landfill sites can accept it.

The owner of a demolition company faced court in May after a covert surveillance operation in 2019 documented trucks entering a site in Rossmore to deliver asbestos-contaminated topsoil.

Along with his fines, the man was ordered to pay the EPA $60,000 in legal costs and $600 in investigation costs in May. Back in 2022, he was also fined $30,000 for lying to the EPA.

He is the second person to be convicted in relation to a 2019 operation – the home’s occupier was fined $180,000 in 2021.

If you suspect illegal dumping in your area, you can contact the EPA's 24-hour Environment Line on 131 555.

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