How to recognise asbestosAsbestos kits & testingSafe practices & techniquesTransport & disposalHealth risksCouncil roles & responsibilities


Asbestos was commonly used in building materials in Australia up until the late 1980s. Many buildings in the Tweed contain this potentially hazardous material.

Asbestos can be found in internal and external walls, eaves, ceilings and fences. It is also used to insulate hot water pipes and as backing material for vinyl flooring and in textured paints.

As long as they remain undisturbed, materials which contain asbestos pose no risk. However, if you're doing even the smallest renovations you should be aware of the requirements and procedures which must be followed for public safety.

How to recognise asbestos

Asbestos fence Asbestos is made up of microscopic fibres which are invisible to the naked eye. Its presence cannot be confirmed without careful examination of a sample in a laboratory using a specialised microscope. Any material which might potentially contain asbestos however must be treated as if it does. This especially includes any materials which were installed prior to 1990.

There are two types of materials to be concerned about when it comes to asbestos. Non-friable or bonded asbestos products are solid with asbestos fibres tightly bound in cement or other material. Fibro sheeting, concrete formwork and asbestos vinyl tiles are common examples of non-friable asbestos products. These products are safe if they are undamaged but can release asbestos fibres if they are broken or if they fray at the edges. 

Friable asbestos products are loosely bound and can potentially contain up to 100 per cent asbestos. These potentially very dangerous materials were used as insulation in fireplaces, stoves and heaters while also being used as pipe lagging and for soundproofing. 

For a more resources on how to identify asbestos please visit

Asbestos kits and testing

Asbestos broken tiles Tweed Shire Council have kits available for testing small amounts of asbestos at Tweed Shire properties. These kits can be purchased at the front desk of the Murwillumbah Civic Centre and dropped off for testing. Please visit the Fees and payments page for charges (cost recovery only). 

The kits provide full instructions and everything required to enable renovators to take up to two samples from a Tweed property and store it safely for transport. Once collected the kits are sent on to a laboratory accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities and the test results are sent directly to the resident.

Safe renovation practices and techniques

Any time materials containing asbestos might be disturbed through renovation activities it is vital that proper safety procedures are followed. This includes very minor procedures such as drilling holes and sanding in preparation for painting.

If more than 10m², or more than 100 kg of material is to be removed this must be done by a licenced asbestos removalist. Less than 10m² of bonded asbestos material can legally be removed by anyone, however penalties may be incurred if correct safe work procedures are not followed. It is therefore strongly recommended that all asbestos removal work be conducted by licensed removalists. Any amount of friable asbestos can only be removed by those licenced to do so. See the table below for a summary:

Type of material When is a licence required

Bonded material
Fibro, corrugated cement sheeting and asbestos cement pipes.

Bonded asbestos licence
If you plan to removal, repair or disturb more than 10 square metres, or more than 100kg of bonded asbestos.

Friable material
Sprayed limpet, asbestos cloth, millboard and pipe lagging.

Friable asbestos licence
If you plan to remove, repair or disturb any amount of friable asbestos.

To get a licence and a list of removalists please contact SafeWork NSW 13 10 50

Whenever you are doing renovations which might involve asbestos there are a number of rules to consider including:

  • Never use power tools such as saws, power washers, high powered drills, grinders or electric sanders
  • Prepare your work area properly to ensure any dust can be collected and restrict access to the area
  • If your renovation requires cutting a hole – eg for a window or electrical outlet – consider removing and replacing the fibro sheet with a non-asbestos material
  • Wear disposable clothing such as coveralls and ensure they are removed and disposed of correctly – do not shake dust out and do not launder
  • Wear an approved respirator at all times – ordinary dust masks do not provide protection from asbestos fibres
  • Have a plan in place to dispose of asbestos waste quickly and correctly
  • Never use a household vacuum cleaner to clean your job site

Even if you have engaged a licenced asbestos removalist it is still your responsibility to ensure safe work practices are being followed so it is a good idea to do some research before the job begins.

SafeWork NSW is an excellent resource which provides information about asbestos in the home and workplace including links to safe working techniques and responsibilities.

Transport and disposal

Asbestos dumping If more than 10m², or more than 100 kg of material is to be removed this must be done by a licenced asbestos removalist who must track and report to the EPA using WasteLocate. Less than 10m² of bonded asbestos material can legally be removed by anyone, however penalties may be incurred if correct safe work procedures are not followed. It is therefore strongly recommended that all asbestos removal work be conducted by licensed removalists. Any amount of friable asbestos can only be removed by those licenced to do so. 

In order to be accepted at the landfill site all materials suspected of containing asbestos must be wrapped in heavy duty plastic and secured prior to arrival. If a load arrives at Stotts Creek wrapped incorrectly it will be turned away and Council’s compliance department will be notified to ensure it is dealt with properly. 

Asbestos waste must not be disposed of in domestic waste bins, stored on a property or dumped. Dumping asbestos illegally can not only lead to significant fines and other penalties but also presents serious health risks to anyone who may come across such material in the future. By disposing of asbestos properly you are protecting the health of your family and your community. 

Stotts Creek Resource Recovery Centre ONLY accepts asbestos Monday - Friday 7am - 2:30pm and under the following conditions:

  • Keep asbestos containing material separated from other building materials 
  • Dampen asbestos to reduce dust but ensure water does not run off 
  • Wrap asbestos in heavy duty plastic and tape securely according to legislation
  • If disposing of asbestos in a skip bin, ensure the bin is lined with plastic and that the load is covered securely before being transported
  • Notify weighbridge staff that you have asbestos in your load
  • Proof of residency must be shown, as Inside Shire and Out of Shire Rates will apply

NOTE: Asbestos is not accepted on weekends or public holidays.

Asbestos packaging

For more details about the legal requirements for transporting and disposing asbestos waste, visit the NSW Government Asbestos website

Visit the
Asbestos waste page

Under the Protection of the Environment Operations (Waste) Regulation 2014,asbestos transporters and facilities receiving asbestos waste are required to track loads of asbestos greater than 100 kilograms, or 10 square metres using WasteLocate

Find facilities that may accept asbestos waste from business and industry

Asbestos: A guide for householders and the general public provides further details about the health risks of asbestos, including several case studies.

Council roles and responsibilities

Asbestos dwelling Council has obligations under various provisions of the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 and the Contaminated Land Management Act 1997.

The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 empowers Council to issue environment protection notices. Clean-up notices may direct an occupier of premises at or from which Council reasonably suspects that a pollution Incident has occurred, or a person reasonably suspected of causing or having caused pollution, to take clean-up action specified in the notice. This would include the unsatisfactory storage and or disposal of asbestos.

Prevention notices can be issued if the appropriate regulatory authority reasonably suspects that any activity has been or is being carried out in an environmentally unsatisfactory manner at any premises or by any person. Prevention notices require that action specified in the notice be taken, fees are payable to Council, for the issuing of clean-up and prevention notices. There is a right of appeal to the Land and Environment Court.

Council may also issue a notice directing the owner of a property to remove any damaged and broken asbestos for example, a damaged asbestos fence.

Council is also the authorising authority for any demolition or construction work which requires a Development Approval. Where these structures contain asbestos material council may place general conditions on any Development Application advising the applicant of provisions contained in relevant Australian Standards, Occupational Health and Safety Regulations and Guidelines produced by NSW Workcover in relation to handling or working with asbestos.

Council may also be contacted where asbestos containing material has been dumped or otherwise abandoned in a public place. In such circumstances where the persons responsible cannot be identified, council in conjunction with the NSW Fire and Rescue may arrange for the material to be collected once it has been rendered safe to handle and disposed of at Council’s waste disposal facility.

Generally where waste material containing asbestos is dumped or otherwise contained on private property, the material remains the responsibility of the property owner. Where a complaint is made to council in respect to waste asbestos material on private property, council regulatory officers may investigate the complaint and where considered necessary, the property owner may be required to remove and safely dispose of the waste material.

For all such enquiries and complaints contact Council’s Environmental Health Unit on 02 6670 2400

Health risks

Asbestos only poses a risk to health when fibres are breathed in, which is why it is important to take precautions any time bonded asbestos material is cut, broken or drilled into. When fibres are breathed in they can lodge deep in the lungs and over time can develop into a number of diseases including asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer. 

While exposure to high doses of asbestos and over extended periods greatly increases the risk of contracting associated diseases it has been determined there is no safe amount of exposure and safety procedures must always be followed when doing renovations. These procedures reduce risk not only for those doing the work but for those in the vicinity, including neighbours, who might come in contact with fibres released into the air. 

Asbestos is found at very low levels in all air so there is never an absolute zero risk of infection but following proper procedures ensures this risk is minimised as much as possible. 

The Federal Environmental Health Standing Committee has developed a guidebook titled Asbestos - A Guide for householders and the General Public that can be found on the Department of Health website. 

More information