Earlier this year, Wollongong City Council closed Helensburgh Mountain Bike Park following reports that fragments of asbestos had been found on the site’s tracks.
We are working to remediate the site, with the support of the NSW EPA. However, while we’re getting closer to be able to reopen, we’re not there yet.
As we work with the licensee, Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club (HORCC), on the next steps for the facility, we’re asking community members to stay safe and to not go inside the site fencing.
That’s because, while we’ve removed asbestos fragments from multiple locations across the site and regular air monitoring has been in place, people walking or riding on the site can change its risk profile.
The management of a contaminated site can be a complicated process and it’s important we get it right.
The steps we take now will determine how this area may be used in the future and the safe, long-term management of the land, which is an important space to many in the Helensburgh community.
Most recently we have:
- Reviewed the detailed and comprehensive laboratory results and reporting provided to Council by an independent expert. The report confirmed the presence of asbestos fragments right across the 2.3ha site.
- Developed a site management plan for the site.
- Met with the NSW EPA to seek endorsement of a site management plan for the area operated under licence by HORCC.
- Continued conversations with representatives from HORCC to keep them updated on the work Council has been undertaking as the landowner.
Council is working through a plan to assess whether it's practical and viable to remove the contaminated soil from the site and dispose of it at a licenced waste facility. This would then see the site assessed by a licenced asbestos assessor or hygienist, who would need to provide a clearance certificate to say it’s clear of any identifiable asbestos.
A clearance certificate is needed before Council could return the site to public use.
You can read our past statements about Helensburgh Mountain Bike Park to learn more about what's happening at this location.
Our most recent statement, issued to media on 14 September 2023, read:
Earlier this year, we closed Helensburgh Mountain Bike Park following reports that fragments of asbestos had been found in clay material on the site’s tracks.
We’re working to remediate the site, in consultation with the NSW EPA and in collaboration with representatives from the Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club as the licensee for the site.
It’s important we get this right because, while we’ve removed asbestos fragments from the clay material from multiple locations across the site, further fragments continue to be found. In addition to the asbestos, the site contains significant amounts of building waste (broken up tiles and bricks), and it’s possible there is more asbestos containing materials below the surface in the park’s dirt tracks and jumps.
Council shares the Club’s concerns about the origins of the material and the fact more fragments continue to be found. Whilst we are uncertain as to how the asbestos material found its way to the site, and there is a possibility it has been placed.
Our priority is community safety, and while we’re getting closer to being able to reopen, we’re not there yet. We are focussed on getting the park up and running as soon as possible and are working closely with the Club to do this in a safe way.
It’s important people stay off the site as walking or riding on it can change its risk profile and could, potentially, disturb yet-to-be-identified asbestos fragments.
We will continue to collaborate with the licensee on next steps for the facility.
Council continues to encourage community members to stay outside the site fencing, and should anyone have concerns about people entering the site they should contact HORCC or NSW Police.
- Working towards reopening Helensburgh Mountain Bike Park, July 2023
- Helensburgh Mountain Bike Park statement, May 2023.
Common questions about Helensburgh Mountain Bike Park
We temporarily closed the Park in May 2023 as a precautionary measure to allow investigations to be carried out into the make-up of the soil on the dirt tracks imported to the site by the Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club.
As asbestos fragments had been found right across the site, the site has remained closed until remediation work can be completed.
No. There have been a significant number of fragments, and these have been found right across the site on both Council-owned land and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service land.
At this point in time, we have only found asbestos containing material in the form of fibro pieces on the surface of the ground.
However, we are concerned it is within other parts of the dirt tracks that contains fill material. The fill material consists of construction and demolition waste like brick, tile, and concrete. We believe the fibro fragments are very likely to be contained within this fill material.
While any identifiable asbestos fragments that have been found at the site have been removed, the site has remained closed until the necessary clearance certification is obtained.
The movement of bikes and riders across the dirt tracks can disturb the soil, and potentially uncover further materials that could contain asbestos.
Council installed the fencing for the safety of the community. While the site is fenced off, and the soil remains undisturbed, regular on-site air monitoring has come up clear. However, should anyone ride on the dirt, this puts them at risk of uncovering and disturbing new fragments.
While the safety fencing has been in place, it has been extensively damaged. It’s there to keep people out of the site for their own safety. In addition, tasking Council staff to repeatedly fix the fencing diverts ratepayer funding from other works.
Council has been working with the Helensburgh Off Road Cycle Club.
When dangerous materials, such as asbestos, are found at a site like this there are a number of steps that have to be undertaken. These include detailed reports and assessments of the site by independent experts, consultation with important stakeholders like the NSW EPA and NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, and the development of a long-term site management plan.
These steps take time, and it’s important we get them right. How we manage the site now, will impact on its use into the future.
We know this is area is a valued space and we are focussed on reopening the site to the community as soon as possible.
Yes. The sportsgrounds remain open and are not impacted by the closure of the neighbouring site.
We do not have a date at this time. However, we are focussed on reopening the site for the community as soon as possible.
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