On Thursday, firefighters doused the site of illegally demolished 19th century pub in order to preclude asbestos fibres from polluting the air. The presence of asbestos at the site was confirmed on Wednesday according to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA). Due to the forecasted high winds, EPA called on the fire brigade to isolate the contamination as a “precautionary measure”.

The pub at The Corkman Hotel which used to accommodate Melbourne University students was destroyed on the weekend after being found of containing hazardous asbestos materials. The demolition work was deemed illegal because of lacking demolition and plan permits.

Penalties for such violation could hit millions according to Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle. He told ABC on thursday, “…we’re getting to the point of well over $1 million if the maximum penalties of these breaches are applied.”

Residents at Risk

Despite the EPA’s remark that the risk to the community is low, nearby residents are all worried about the the potential exposure.

A law student who witnessed the pub demolished told The Age, that she now fears they inhaled contaminated dusts. Parents are also worried about the health of their family. A mother told the new site: “As a mother I am absolutely devastated. It is very upsetting that they could have been exposed without their knowledge.”

Asbestos exposure is widely known for its hazardous effects on physical health. Mesothelioma, a form of cancer caused by asbestos is a deadly disease killing around 43,000 people worldwide yearly.

Learn more about the risk of asbestos exposure here.

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