by GRACE JOHNSON
Sections of Victoria Park in Broadway have been closed to the public following a discovery of bonded asbestos in the mulch last night, bringing into question whether Mardi Gras Fair Day will be able to go ahead.
70,000 people are expected to turn up at Victoria Park for the day long festival this Sunday.
The discovery was made after the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) told the City of Sydney last Thursday that they may have received contaminated mulch.
On Monday, Harmony Park in Surry Hills, adjacent to the police station, was found to be contaminated with friable asbestos, a highly hazardous form of asbestos as it crushes easily and can become airborne.
Bonded asbestos, which is considered by NSW Health as having low-to-negligible risk, was found in contaminated mulch in Victoria Park and Belmore Park. Affected areas in both parks will have fences and signs installed, with clean-up crews sent out.
A spokesperson for Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras assured City Hub that “We’re progressing as normal.”
In a statement, Mardi Gras said, “We are in close contact with the City of Sydney as they begin their clean-up efforts in Victoria Park.”
“The City of Sydney is actively working to resolve the issue, with health and safety measures being their top priority,” the statement continues.
“We will continue to work with them and will provide updates as they become available.”
City of Sydney has not yet responded to City Hub‘s requests for comment.
City of Sydney under fire
At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, Councillor Shauna Jarrett told City Hub said she hopes that those at the Council who pride themselves on creating big events are working “really, really closely” with those from the Pride committee and Mardi Gras to ensure that celebrations can go ahead.
“It needs to be safe for everyone,” said Cr Jarrett. “Not just moving to another park that might have an issue, but actually doing that work, which is what they should have done in the first place, in ensuring that Fair Day can go ahead.”
Councillor Yvonne Weldon added, “We’re being advised about other parks that have been opened, so let’s hope they’ve actually risk managed this one.”
The City of Sydney came under fire when it was discovered that Council knew that friable asbestos had been found in Harmony Park twelve hours before the area was fenced off.
As late as 8:30am on Tuesday morning, people and dogs were seen walking in the park with no indication that they should keep away.
It was only at 9am that council workers came to the park to fence off entrances on Goulburn Street, Park Street and Hunt Street, and to tell visitors that the park was unsafe.
Premier Chris Minns said the failure to barricade the area overnight was “troubling” and the recent discoveries of asbestos across Sydney parks as “completely unacceptable.”
Harmony Park has since been totally closed to the public. At Victoria and Belmore Parks, fences and signs will be installed around the affected areas while the material is cleaned up.