Asbestos debris has been identified in the bush area adjacent to Old Mill Road, adjoining the Western Springs Outer Fields. Experts from Auckland Council’s Risk Assessment Programme have visited the site to assess the area and the risks posed to the public.

The area is adjacent to a historic landfill. From observation, the asbestos material is broken pieces of fibrolite (asbestos cement often used in buildings pre-1985) that has been there, undisturbed, for many years. A small amount of asbestos fibrolite has made its way to the surface due to people creating informal mountain bike tracks through the bush.  Due to the nature of the bush, it is not possible to see where other asbestos pieces may be located just under the surface.

Auckland Unlimited has taken expert advice to mitigate the risk. The safest way to deal with the risk of exposure is to leave the asbestos undisturbed and for those using the bush area to keep to the existing formed tracks.

Auckland Unlimited has erected clear signage that advises people of the presence of asbestos and warns people to keep to the formed tracks and to not dig or otherwise disturb the soil throughout the bush area.

Auckland Unlimited has also halted all replanting in the area that could potentially unearth more asbestos. We are seeking to undertake further investigations, with a view to narrowing down the known contaminated area so bush restoration can take place throughout the balance of the area.

For more information, see the FAQs below or contact:


Asbestos is a proven human carcinogen, and all forms of asbestos can cause cancer. The risk from a single, low-level exposure to asbestos that has been bonded into fibrolite is deemed low (see the Ministry of Health facts on asbestos). However, no ‘safe’ lower limit of exposure has been identified with certainty.

Asbestos specialists agree the best way to deal with a situation like the one at Western Springs is to leave the ground undisturbed. As it is 'historic contamination' it is covered with soil and will

be exposed only by disturbance such as digging and planting.

Intact, asbestos-containing material is not a risk merely by its presence. Potential health problems occur if asbestos fibres become airborne. Disturbing the material could cause particles to become airborne, and there is no way of knowing how much is beneath the surface from the adjacent landfill.

The image below shows the location of the old landfill (in blue) and the red is where small amounts of asbestos were found. The pieces were found only where the soil had been disturbed by the mountain bike tracks.

There is no risk of exposure for anyone who heeds the signs and stays on the formed walking tracks.



Our immediate priority is to keep the community safe and prevent any further risk of disturbing the asbestos.  We have erected warning signs at entry points to the area. We are also notifying parents and community interest groups of the presence of asbestos in the bush area via Facebook.

Auckland Unlimited has also halted any work in the area that would disturb the ground and potentially release asbestos fibre into the air. This includes replanting within the red zone on the map.  We are seeking to undertake further investigations with a view to narrowing down the known contaminated area, so bush restoration can take place throughout the balance of the area.

The only way we can keep our community safe is to educate our children on the dangers of disturbing asbestos and minimise any possibility of them coming into contact with it. Please look after your family members and ask them not to enter or create new informal tracks in the hazard zone.