Farmer left to foot the bill after crash driver dumps asbestos

DISAPPOINTED: James Stewart's father, Peter Stewart, with asbestos laden material left behind at the propery after a road accident recently. Photo:CHRIS SEABROOK 101116cfence1

DISAPPOINTED: James Stewart's father, Peter Stewart, with asbestos laden material left behind at the propery after a road accident recently. Photo:CHRIS SEABROOK 101116cfence1

A LOCAL farmer will have to foot the $1000 bill to remove asbestos dumped on his property by a driver who crashed through his fence.

James Stewart was alerted to the incident at his Mitchell Highway property by a passing truck driver on October 4.

“He said it appeared a vehicle had crashed into the fence and had left behind something and he said it looked like asbestos,” Mr Stewart said.

The police and the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) were called and confirmed that the material left behind contained asbestos.

An investigation of the scene indicated a vehicle was likely travelling west toward Orange when it left the road and hit the fence.

Mr Stewart said a few pieces of a vehicle were found at the scene and, with assistance from Bathurst Mazda, they were identified as belonging to a 2006 to 2011 model Mazda BT-50 utility.

He hopes somebody saw the accident occur or a vehicle of this description on the Mitchell Highway with damage to it.

“If anybody witnessed the accident [they need to report it], because the EPA would be keen to speak with them,” Mr Stewart said.

An EPA spokesperson said it was “unacceptable” that the person responsible for the material had not owned up to it. 

“This incident is a reminder that it is an environmental crime to dump or dispose of waste, including asbestos, on private and public land,” the spokesperson said.

“Fines range from $15,000 for a company and $7500 for an individual. Serial illegal waste dumpers can also face time in jail if they re-offend.

“Illegal dumping can also cost landowners, local councils and ratepayers thousands of dollars a year to clean up.

“In this case the polluter has not been identified and others are covering the cost. This is unacceptable.”

Anyone with information about this incident is asked to report it to the EPA’s 24 hour Environment Line on 131 555. 

“Incidents can also can also be made by registering with the EPA’s new smartphone app ‘Report to EPA’ or via the Regional Illegal Dumping portal,” the spokesperson said.

Mr Stewart said road accidents had resulted in damage to his property before, but he has never experienced an incident like this.

In addition to leaving behind the hazardous material, the driver took out around 30 metres of fence that could have seen Mr Stewart’s sheep escape onto the road.

“We always have plenty of accidents because it is such a poor road, but this one is just worse because of the asbestos,” he said.

“At the end of the day, you put your hand up and say ‘look, I had an accident’.

“I’m a bit disappointed that no one was responsible enough to say they did it.”

Mr Stewart said it would cost more than $1000 to have the material safely removed by a licensed waste company.

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