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Alcoa ordered to release asbestos, dust results after Anglesea blast

The Environmental Protection Authority has issued an approval for dust and noise emissions for the blast but insists that Alcoa release an asbestos monitoring report “as soon as practicable”.

One well-placed source with close knowledge of the building has raised concerns about the possibility that asbestos gaskets remained in some sections of the structure that were difficult to reach.

But the company maintains it has conducted a comprehensive 12-month asbestos removal program, overseen by WorkSafe.

The former Anglesea power station and coal mine

The former Anglesea power station and coal mine

Photo: The Age

An Alcoa spokeswoman said the company was confident the demolition and clean-up did not pose a risk to employees, contractors, the community or the environment.

“The safety of all site personnel and the community is Alcoa’s priority,” she said.

The spokeswoman said the monitoring results showed there had been no presence of airborne fibres above the standards for asbestos exposure outlined in occupational health and safety laws.

But community members remained worried.

“Whether it’s asbestos or any other kind of dust it’s a concern to most people with young children and families,” Anglesea resident Emma Fenty said.

Federal MP Sarah Henderson, whose Corangamite electorate takes in the site, said Alcoa could not provide an assurance that there were no remaining traces of asbestos in the building.

“Alcoa cannot guarantee that all asbestos in the power station has been removed,” she said. “I remain deeply concerned about the risk of asbestos fibres being released into the community.”

Ms Henderson said Alcoa representatives should have doorknocked “every home in the immediate vicinity” before the blast.

Alford experts will deploy three bomb disposal robots to prepare for the blast. A 550-metre exclusion zone will be set up around the power station and patrolled by security guards.

In a statement Alcoa said the demolition would be audible for about 10 seconds and will sound like claps of thunder.

The station had provided power to Alcoa’s Port Henry aluminium smelter near Geelong before it closed in 2015.

A WorkSafe spokeswoman said: “WorkSafe has reviewed Alcoa’s asbestos management plan to ensure processes are in place to handle any asbestos in accordance with regulations.”

Benjamin is a state political reporter

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