Likely cause of asbestos dumping revealed

Hosken Reserve in Coburg was one of more than a dozen Melbourne parks found to have asbestos earlier this month. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Diego Fedele

The Victorian Environment Protection Authority continues to find asbestos in mulch at more and more Melbourne parks.

The asbestos is in its bonded form, not the friable state which causes cancer.

The ongoing investigation has now found contamination across on the eastern side of the city, and in most cases the asbestos has been illegally and historically dumped at the parks and reserves.

A flurry of tests mostly in the Hobsons Bay council area, but also in Brimbank Shire, Casey and Merri-bek was sparked by a parent finding asbestos a fortnight ago.

Since then, 13 parks have been found to have asbestos and five are suspected to, pending test results.


  • Donald McLean Reserve in Spotswood, under investigation

  • PJ Lynch Reserve in Altona North, from historic dumping

  • Hosken Reserve in Coburg North, from historic buried material

  • PA Burns Reserve in Altona, from legacy in situ contamination (comprising underlying building waste)

  • GJ Hosken Reserve in Altona North, from legacy in situ contamination

  • Crofts Reserve in Altona North, from legacy in situ contamination

  • Shore Reserve in Pascoe Vale South, from nearby building works

  • Altona Coastal Park, from historic dumping

  • Fitzgerald Square Reserve in Sunshine West, from historic dumping

  • Federation Trail in Brooklyn, from historic dumping

  • Minihans Reserve in Cranbourne, from historic dumping

  • Doug Grant Reserve in Altona, from historic dumping

  • Laverton Creek (at the rear of AB Shaw Reserve) in Altona Meadows, from historic dumping

  • Truganina Park in Altona Meadows, from historic dumping

  • Newport Lakes Reserve, from historic dumping

  • Grieve Parade in Altona, from legacy in situ contamination

  • Cherry Lake Buffer Mound in Altona, from historic dumping

  • Kororoit Creek Reserve in Altona North, under investigation


  • Kororoit Creek Trail in Altona North

  • Dennis Reserve in Williamstown

  • Laverton Creek estuary

  • HD Graham Reserve in Altona Meadows

  • AB Shaw Reserve in Altona Meadows

  • Rifle Range Arboretum in Williamstown

  • The Pines Scout Camp in Altona

  • RJ Long Reserve in Williamstown North

  • Armstong Reserve in Newport

  • DOW Chemicals in Altona

  • Scotchmans Creek Reserve in Mount Waverley

“It appears that the two most likely sources of asbestos contamination are deposits after mulch is laid (such as littering, dumping, flood wash) or it was already on the site and mulch laid over it, including new mulch that has been deposited on top of older mulch still present at the site,” the environment authority said last week.

Environment Protection Authority Victoria staff have stressed the bonded form of asbestos found is not toxic. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie

But this week the net authorities may need to cast grew eastwards, as the City of Casey found asbestos in a mulched garden bed at Minihans Reserve in Cranbourne, as part of a proactive inspection program.

In the wake of the initial discoveries and testing across multiple parks two weeks ago, Victoria’s chief environmental scientist, Mark Patrick Taylor, said there was a very minimal health risk with the bonded asbestos, as it would need to be cut, ground up and inhaled to be cancerous.

The asbestos found has mostly been from historic dumping. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nicki Connolly

Contaminated mulch in Altona, Altona North and Altona Meadows have been remediated with a rake taking material off the surface.

Just two of the 13 contaminated parks have been reopened; Fitzgerald Square Reserve in Sunshine West and Shore Reserve in Pascoe Vale South.

It comes as the NSW EPA investigates a criminal case concerning whether “allegations of foul play or criminal conduct” in the mulch supply chain led to asbestos being introduced.

More than 70 garden beds and parks are currently being tested across Sydney, with at least 25 sites already confirmed to contain asbestos.

The Victorian authority has previously stated mulch producers are “unlikely” to be responsible for the contamination, with the investigation indicating illegal dumping as the primary source.