Lime exposure during Hill Street roadworks concerns residents

Concerned: Hill Street residents Lisa Franklin and Shirley Chasling. Photo: Ivan Sajko.
Concerned: Hill Street residents Lisa Franklin and Shirley Chasling. Photo: Ivan Sajko.

ROAD contractors working in Hill Street have been left to temporarily suspend works and wash down residents’ cars after a ‘lime bomb’ left homes, vehicles, washing and gardens cloaked in a thick film of dust.

Hill Street is undergoing $1 million in upgrade works which includes the installation of a new road pavement. Stage one of the council project is underway between Lord and Granite Streets.

On Monday, October 10, contractors Stabilised Pavements Australia, laid lime on to the exposed road surface as a part of the scheduled works which are expected to take between three and four weeks to complete.

Residents were notified of the works and temporary disruptions to traffic flow and access to their homes via a letter from Port Macquarie-Hastings Council dated September 20, 2017.

One concerned resident said they were not told to take safety precautions while lime was being placed on the road, or of the potential health risks if exposed to the chemical.

Dozens of homes and vehicles were exposed to significant amounts of lime dust during the procedure with several residents now complaining of agitated respiratory conditions, itchy skin and swollen eyes. 

“They all had eye masks, gloves and protective covering on at the time while lime was blowing in the air and landing on us,” the resident said. He contacted councillors about resident concerns and made a complaint to council.

Council responded swiftly shutting works down until the issue was resolved. The contractors were ordered to wash down vehicles.

Lisa Franklin was scheduled to see her doctor after her throat and breathing became affected, while Pam Northern spent the morning washing down the interior of her home and treating swollen eyes.

“My eyes are stinging and my throat hurts. There was lime a couple of inches thick on our outdoor tables,” Lisa said.

Council’s acting director of infrastructure, Andrew Doig, said council acted quickly to resolve the issue.

“Council has been working with the contractor and local residents to deal with the issue of airborne dust that has settled on vehicles adjacent to the worksite as a result of windy conditions,” Mr Doig said.

“Discussion has occurred with our contractor, who are washing down impacted vehicles and have suspended works until winds abate.

“New machinery is being brought on site to minimise dust for the remainder of the project, adding to other dust control measures that are in place.

“Council encourages local residents to contact us should they have any questions or concerns relating to the Hill St road safety improvements.”