11 April 2024

Work begins to remove stormwater pipes with low asbestos risk at Surfside Beach

| Albert McKnight
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Old stormwater pipes have been exposed to the elements by erosion at Surfside Beach.

Old stormwater pipes have been exposed to the elements by erosion at Surfside Beach. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

Exposed stormwater pipes deemed to be of a low asbestos risk will soon be removed from a beach just to the north of Batemans Bay.

Long-term coastal erosion and more recent storm swells exposed the pipes and concrete slabs at Surfside Beach earlier this year, before tests revealed the pipes contained asbestos.

Eurobodalla Shire Council temporarily cordoned off the northern end of the beach as a safety measure, then in late February 2024, an asbestos specialist determined the pipes to be of a low risk.

“The findings indicated a low risk, and the recommendations were to restrict public access and remove the exposed pipes in the medium term,” council’s infrastructure director Graham Attenborough said at the time.

“Low risk indicates the material is in good and stable condition, which presents a negligible health risk in its current condition.

“However, the pipes and slabs are an eyesore on a lovely beach and as soon as we have the required permit from Marine Parks and endorsement from Crown Lands, we’ll have a licensed asbestos removal contractor safely remove and dispose of the old pipes.”

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Council said the work to remove the old pipes began on Monday (8 April).

“We now have the necessary NSW Government approvals to send in specialists to remove and dispose of the pipes,” Mr Attenborough said.

“We’re hoping the weather will be favourable to get the job done before the school holidays – the beach environment can be a hazardous workspace – safety of our crews and the public is priority.

“Crews will be full steam ahead during low tide hours, where excavators will be on the beach and trucks will be in the northern car park and along the road.”

He asked the public to keep their distance from the workers and to avoid the area if possible.

Mr Attenborough said some pipes at the northern end of the beach would remain in place for now.

“We have plans for these pipes which are still being used to manage stormwater; that area will remain cordoned off for the time being,” he said.

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In addition, contractors will remove and mulch select branches and trunks from fallen trees as approved by NSW Environment and Heritage.

“To help reduce erosion and further damage to the bank, root balls and some tree trunks will be left in place as well as certain sections of pipes which will be covered in concrete,” Mr Attenborough said.

Previously, council’s Coastal Management Program identified beach nourishment as the most effective solution to address erosion at the northern end of Surfside Beach, which would involve replenishing the beach with sand from another location.

In February, Mr Attenborough said council had been liaising with NSW Government agencies to examine the possibility of using sand from the Clyde River dredging.

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