Council’s cannery demolition takes out asbestos management award

The Batlow Cannery demolition project was severely impacted by last summer’s bushfires.

The demolition of the Batlow Cannery has been recognised with an award in the Local Government NSW’s (LGNSW) Excellence in the Environment Awards.

The project – which commenced in December 2019 and was heavily impacted by bushfire in January, drastically altering the original demolition scope – was named the 2020 winner of the Asbestos Management Award. 

Snowy Valleys Council was awarded under Division A, for councils with a population under 30,000 people.

LGNSW said that each year NSW councils invest around $1.7 billion in environmental management collectively, and these awards recognise and celebrate their achievements.

“Overall, there were 38 finalists in 16 categories, representing a vast variety of inspiring council-led environmental initiatives across NSW,” LGNSW President Linda Scott said.

“What is especially impressive is that many councils undertook these resource-demanding projects while fighting through the effects of drought, devastating bushfires and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“NSW councils have a strong environmental record and LGNSW supports their efforts through these highly-respected awards as well as through a range of other initiatives.”

The Batlow Cannery was an industrial site comprising approximately 2.5 hectares, operated as the Mountain Maid cannery up until the early 2000s. 

Since its closing, the property had sat idle with a number of large industrial buildings falling into a poor state of repair. Many of these buildings contained asbestos and required extensive remediation. 

Community consultation had identified the improvement of the derelict cannery site as a priority for the Batlow community. Council purchased the site in September 2019 with funds from the NSW Government’s Stronger Communities Major Infrastructure Fund.

The Batlow Cannery site was then significantly impacted by the recent bushfires, resulting in the site being contaminated with ash and debris impacted with friable asbestos. Prior to the fire the asbestos on the site was considered largely non-friable and easily managed with the demolition being relatively straightforward.

The spread of the asbestos means that the ground which it lay upon was also considered contaminated and requires shallow scraping and disposal. Chemical analysis of the soil material needing disposal resulted in the waste being classified as Asbestos Contaminated Restricted Hazardous Waste and Asbestos Contaminated General Solid Waste.

This additional contamination and the required clean up and disposal significantly increased the scope of works and cost to demolish the site and achieve the original scope works for the demolition project.

The post-fire clean-up project was completed using the following methodology:

• Negotiated as a variation to the contract for the original Batlow Cannery demolition project.
• Post bushfire scope of works was developed collaboratively with the contractor and the environmental consultants.
• Initial estimate of more than $2 million, the post bushfire target budget was reduced to $881,000 through careful project management. Overall costs associated with the post-bushfire scope was $854,000.
• On-site activities commenced in late Jan 2020 and were completed in April 2020 with site clearance obtained for above ground asbestos.

The removal of above ground asbestos and dangerous structures offered the opportunity for SVC to potentially re-use/activate the site or potentially lease to local businesses, and in August, it was announced that the cannery site had been leased to a pine nursery operator.

The next step is to develop a masterplan for the re-use of the site to benefit the community.