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Australian Indigenous HealthBulletin Alcohol and other drugs knowledge centre Yarning Places

Asbestos illness a concern for Indigenous community of Baryulgil

Date posted: 4 February 2014

There are serious concerns over a number of asbestos related illnesses in the Indigenous community of Baryulgil in North Coast NSW.

New cases continue to be diagnosed in the remote Indigenous community decades after a James Hardie mine closed. The mine at Baryulgil north west of Grafton operated from the 1940's until the late 1970's, and employed dozens of local Indigenous workers.

Doctors working in the area are diagnosing new cases of asbestos-related illnesses regularly. Grafton-based GP Dr Ray Jones said only a handful are still alive, but the impact of the asbestos mine on the community is still being felt. 'We're still seeing many cases of disease as a result of the asbestos that was breathed in 40 years ago in Baryulgil, when the mine was operational.'

Dr Jones said it wasn't just the miners exposed to large amounts of asbestos. 'Local Aboriginal children used to be invited down to play in the pile of asbestos tailings left lying around,' he said. '[The community] used to use the asbestos made at the mine - those tailings, which were the leftovers - they used to use that around the housing in Baryugle as a landfill.'

Source: ABC Indigenous


Last updated: 31 January 2014
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