Asbestos removal in Wheatbelt after bushfires proves expensive

Asbestos is costing home owners hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up after shattering in February’s Wheatbelt bushfires.

It has prompted warnings of an inevitable catastrophe if more asbestos-filled towns are burned.

Shannon and Tim Hardingham were quoted $250,000 to remove the asbestos from buildings destroyed in a bushfire which hit their farm.

Nearby farmer Colin Pond was quoted $130,000 to remove asbestos from the remains of just one farmhouse.

He estimated 15 farms were razed by the fire which narrowly missed the town of Corrigin — only one of the emergency-level fires which struck south-west WA on a weekend of extreme winds and 43 degree temperatures.

“The fire was heading straight for Corrigin and then the wind moved about 90 degrees,” he said.

Had the winds not shifted, the incredibly hot and dry conditions would have made defending the town extremely difficult.

a burned building
The Corrigin fire consumed four homes, 44 non-residential properties and damaged 30 others.(ABC: Anthony Pancia)

Mr Pond said about 80 per cent of buildings in Corrigin contained asbestos, as did many buildings in towns and farms across the region.

“I don’t know what can be done to avoid it.”

Asbestos ‘shatters’ in fire

WA Department of Health senior toxicologist Peirina Otness said there had already been instances of entire towns having to be evacuated after asbestos burned and spread into the local environment.

Posted , updated 

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