An alarming photo of workers in protective suits inspecting asbestos-contaminated mulch in a park has caused some Australians to recall disturbing scenes from the Covid pandemic.
The photo uploaded to reddit on Friday showed several workers wearing protective equipment while working at Rozelle Park in Sydney’s inner west, after the A dangerous substance was detected in dozens of places in the city..
Five workers in hazmat suits were seen checking the landscaping of the new Rozelle Interchange park for the substance.
A worker in orange protective gear was seen holding a large yellow tube as he walked through the area, which is closed to the public during ongoing inspections.
“Literally dystopian,” one user captioned the image.
Locals have had flashbacks of scenes from the pandemic after workers were seen inspecting a park in Rozelle (pictured) in Sydney’s inner west for contaminated mulch.
“Reminds me of the Covid cleaners in the early stages of the pandemic,” commented another person who saw the image.
‘My thoughts which is exactly why it’s so strange to see him again!! “I am very grateful for the work you are doing,” wrote another.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say dystopian unless those responsible get away with little more than a slap on the wrist,” another person commented.
Asbestos has been detected at at least 22 sites after contaminated material was first found at the Rozelle site in January.
Contaminated mulch has also been found in seven schools in the city and all but one, St Luke’s Catholic College in Marsden Park, have closed their doors for the safety of students and staff.
The latest discovery at a Liverpool primary school has resulted in hundreds of students learning from home before being moved to another nearby public school while mulch is removed.
Contaminated mulch was also found in Victoria Park in Camperdown on Monday and plans to hold a Mardi Gras Fair Day event were cancelled. The event was expected to draw 70,000 people to the park.
Workers in protective gear were seen inspecting the park (pictured) for the dangerous substance.
Seven schools in Sydney were closed after asbestos was found in mulch on campuses (pictured, St Luke’s Catholic College)
NSW Premier Chris Minns said hundreds of sites could potentially be affected by asbestos-laden mulch.
The growing scale of the problem and demands on the EPA prompted an asbestos working group to meet Thursday that included hazardous materials experts and government agencies.
Contact tracers working to find potential sites containing contaminated mulch have also increased their numbers in an attempt to speed up the process and reduce public exposure.
The staff now exceeds 130 people.
One difficulty facing authorities is that the supplier linked to the 22 sites distributed its recycled mulch product to 30 companies, some of which passed it on further down the chain.
Victoria Park (pictured) in Camperdown is among dozens of parks in Sydney contaminated with asbestos-laden mulch
Hundreds of students at Liverpool Public School (pictured) were forced to return to learning from home after the school closed when the dangerous substance was detected on school grounds.
Greenlife Resource Recovery, the supplier linked to the 22 contaminated sites, denies that the mulch was contaminated.
The company said Tuesday that tests showed mulch stored at its facilities was free of asbestos.
The EPA issued a precautionary notice to the company after the watchdog determined it supplied the mulch used at Rozelle.
Greenlife has been asked to voluntarily recall its product, but the company is challenging the prevention order.
The state government has stood firm, saying it has been working to deploy resources to detect contaminated mulch in public areas.
Environment Minister Penny Sharpe denied the government had taken too long to respond.
“What we’ve realized is that from the beginning of that process to the end of the supply chain, it’s bigger than we thought,” he said.