Deadly find at busy kids hospital

Asbestos has been located at a children's hospital in Sydney. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

A children’s hospital has been added to the list of more than 50 locations where asbestos contaminated garden mulch was found.

Almost 800 locations across NSW, including schools and parks, have been tested for the deadly substance since it was first found in mulch at newly-opened Rozelle Parklands in January.

The total number of sites that have tested positive has climbed to 54 as of Thursday, according to the latest data from the NSW Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

A construction site at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Bicentennial Park in Glebe and Oran Park Fire Station have all returned positive results for low-risk asbestos.

The Children’s Hospital at Westmead has been added to the list of asbestos contamination sites. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Nikki Short

A garden bed along the Rozelle Interchange at the Iron Cove Bridge has also tested positive to higher-risk friable asbestos.

Transport for NSW fenced off the site on Wednesday night and removal of the mulch has begun, though could take several nights to complete.

It is one of more than 50 sites across NSW. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Jeremy Piper
NSW Premier Chris Minns said the contaminated garden mulch is a serious concern. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Martin Ollman

NSW Premier Chris Minns said the crisis is a “big problem” and reemphasized the serious nature of the incident.

“The EPA is investigating it, it’s a serious offence and fines are up to $2 million,” he told reporters on Thursday.

However he assured the community that the contamination while concerning is not a major health concern due to the bonded nature of the fibres, which make them less likely to become airborne.

“This is bonded asbestos, it’s not safe and we don’t want it in our community but the risk is not as serious as if you had asbestos fibre in your backyard.”

Three sites have also returned negative results following precautionary testing including St Justin’s Catholic Primary School,

St Benedict’s Catholic College and Sutherland Hospital.

These results are in addition to the 798 negative results tested by the EPA since January 10.

Precautionary testing will continue at a number of sites across NSW, including the South Coast, Central Coast, Central West, and Hilltops region.