Asbestos found in Hosken Reserve and Donald McLean Reserve playgrounds in Melbourne

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A second Melbourne playground in less than a week has been closed off to the public after traces of asbestos were located in the soil.

Traces of asbestos have been discovered at Hosken Reserve, which is being upgraded by the local council, in Coburg North.

Merri-bek City Council said the asbestos had been localised to the soil and had not been detected in any of the materials, such as mulch, being transported into the park.

The asbestos found at the park is non-friable, which means it is less likely to release harmful fibres into the air.

When inhaled, asbestos fibres can lead to damaged lung tissue and higher risk of lung disease.

The council said the contaminated soil would be eradicated from the park by “competent and qualified asbestos removalists” over the next two months.

“Any soil that contains asbestos is also currently sealed, undercover, and is inaccessible to the public,” the statement said.

Merri-bek City Council revealed traces of asbestos had also been found at the Hosken Reserve three months earlier when the upgrade project began.

“Appropriate measures were taken to ensure the contaminated soil was removed, the site was safe, and local residents were notified,” the council said.

“It is a frequent occurrence in inner Melbourne that construction projects will involve discovery of centuries-old or decades-old contamination.”

The majority of Hosken Reserve, including the areas where the asbestos has been uncovered, has been closed to the public since January.

The asbestos revelations come only days after a separate investigation was launched into asbestos found at Donald McLean Reserve playground in Spotswood, in Melbourne’s west.

The popular playground was shut down after a parent found building materials containing asbestos in the park’s mulch.

However, the Merri-bek City Council said there was “no evidence at this time” to indicate asbestos at Hosken Reserve was linked to “any other asbestos contamination cases across the state or nationally”.

The Environment Protection Authority Victoria noted it had conducted 59 inspections of mulch providers across the state after community members raised concerns about asbestos.

In NSW, asbestos has been detected in recycled mulch at 76 locations across Sydney, including a primary school, a hospital and several public parks.

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