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City of Sydney utility trucks and school children are pictured in Sydney's Prince Alfred Park after the site was declared one of the numerous sites where asbestos contamination to garden mulch was being tested. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Nicholas Eagar

More asbestos found at Liverpool school

Liverpool West Public School will shut down for weeks after an asbestos contamination was determined to be far more extensive than first anticipated.

At least 22 other sites across Sydney have been confirmed as part of a widespread garden mulch contamination, according to the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

The Sydney school closed for two days at the start of the week when asbestos was found in garden mulch, and was meant to reopen on Wednesday.

NSW Education Minister Prue Car revealed the closure would be extended for a number of weeks because more extensive work is required to clear the contaminated mulch.

The minister said about 700 students will need to be relocated to Gulyangarri Public School while the clean-up continues.

The students will learn from home for the rest of the week and will start at the new school – a 10 minute drive away – on Monday.

An investigation of the contractor and its supply chain is underway after metres of mulch were laid despite plans advising them to add soil beneath a layer of mulch in the garden bed.

Greenlife Resource Recovery Facility lawyer Ross Fox said the contractor was “at risk of being made a scapegoat for failures in a complex supply chain for construction and landscaping projects.”

The Department communicated with families on Wednesday about the next steps in the clean-up process and have been informed there is a low risk.

“The NSW Government understands how frustrating this must be for parents and teachers at the school and I assure you the decision to temporarily close the school site was not taken lightly,” Ms Car said.

“We are acting with an abundance of caution and doing so quickly to ensure the safety of the school community.”

They said they have been assured it is the only school affected by contamination.

Over 100 Sydney sites have been tested for asbestos, with 13 returning a positive result so far.

Three additional locations were found to contain bonded asbestos as of Wednesday, and the EPA is working with the owners of these sites to ensure they are secured and present little risk to the public.

The school shutdown announcement came on the same day Mardi Gras organisers announced they had been forced to cancel their annual Fair Day event at Victoria Park after contaminated mulch was found there late last week.

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