The City of Sydney is appealing for help from the public in identifying a truck driver who illegally dumped more than two tonnes of asbestos outside two pre-schools centres at pick-up time.
CCTV security cameras captured the truck travelling on Wattle Lane, Ultimo, with its tipping tray up and the rear tray gate swinging open, spilling tonnes of asbestos into the roadway as it passes over two speed bumps installed to protect pre-school children.
Parents who arrived to pick up their children after the spill inadvertently drove over the asbestos material.
Cameras captured the truck driver doing a lookout drive-past of the site with the tray in place. A piece of cloth was tied over the truck’s license plate, hiding the number.
The incident happened around 4pm on Friday 14 December, near the playground in the City’s McKee Street Reserve and between two local childcare centres.
After a passer-by raised the alarm, the site was sealed off. When it was confirmed asbestos had been dumped, the City sent toxic waste specialists to undertake a thorough clean-up of the scene, and experts gave it the all clear two days later. The City spent more than $13,000 on the clean-up.
“This was a despicable act that placed the lives of innocent children and their parents at risk,” said Garry Harding, the City’s Director of City Operations.
“Anyone who sees this footage will be outraged by it. This man showed a complete disregard for the children’s safety and there is simply no excuse. To do it in broad daylight right near two childcare centres is an absolute disgrace.
“With the help of local businesses and witnesses, we have pinpointed the offending vehicle and been able to determine the make and model, and even some distinguishing marks and features.
“But we have few other clues to go on. Our Rangers have been searching for the truck and photographing the license plates of vehicles that match its description. But because the truck’s license plate was obscured in the security footage we have not been able to confirm a match.
“We’re asking anyone who recognises this truck to come forward. You may have important information that can help us determine exactly what happened and find the person responsible.”
Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act, local councils have responsibility to investigate and clean-up most illegal dumping incidents. Maximum penalties for illegally dumping waste that causes environmental harm are a $1 million fine and/or seven years imprisonment for individuals, and a $5 million fine for corporations.
The truck is a white Daihatsu Delta with visible scratches on the tray and door on the driver’s side. Most notably, the truck is fitted with a non-standard bar that has been welded across the top of the tip tray and the frame of the tip tray has a large crack near the driver’s door when the tray is down.
The City launched its investigation immediately after the clean-up. Witnesses were interviewed and the owners of surrounding buildings approached about security camera footage, and approvals sought where necessary.
Those approvals have now been granted and the City is able to release the footage to the public.
“Our teams have been trying to locate this truck without tipping-off the owner and possibly compromising the case. But it’s like trying to find a needle in a haystack. It’s time to enlist the help of the people of Sydney in trying to find this vehicle,” Mr. Harding said.
Illegal dumping is an ongoing problem across Sydney, although it is rare for asbestos to be dumped in the City of Sydney Local Government Area. Most illegal dumping involves household goods too large for regular garbage bins, and causes problems such as polluting our waterways and stormwater system, attracting vermin and adding a financial burden to council and ratepayers.
The video can be viewed here.
Anyone with information on the truck is asked to contact the City on 02 9265 9333 or by email on email@example.com
Contact City of SydneySenior Media Adviser Rohan Sullivan, phone 02 9246 7298 or 0414 617 086, or email firstname.lastname@example.org