WA company fined $175k for asbestos importation

Gaskets containing asbestos wrapped for disposal. Picture: Supplied
Gaskets containing asbestos wrapped for disposal. Picture: Supplied

AN ENERGY corporation with “significant assets in WA” has been fined $175,000 for inadvertently importing gaskets containing asbestos.

The Australian Border Force said the District Court of Western Australia’s judgement should serve as a warning for all businesses operating in Australian that import goods.

The unnamed company was convicted of two counts of importing a prohibited item, namely chrysotile asbestos, contained in gaskets in a condensate metering skid and two storage tanks in 2012 and 2013.

It was ordered to pay fines and costs totalling $175,000.

One of the gaskets found to contain asbestos. Picture: Supplied

ABF superintendent for enforcement operations WA Clinton Sims said it was every importer’s responsibility to ensure that all their imported goods contain no asbestos.

“The fact that the company in this case was unaware the imported gaskets contained asbestos at the time of import did not excuse it from liability,” he said.

“When it comes to asbestos, ignorance is not a defence. The onus is on importers to ensure they do not bring prohibited goods such as asbestos into Australia.

Superintendent Sims added:“In this case the company had voluntarily disclosed the asbestos detection, had co-operated with authorities and accepted liability, but ultimately it was still its responsibility to prevent the importation in the first place.

“Importers should be aware of the increased risk of goods containing asbestos when sourced from countries that have asbestos producing industries.”

The ABF said importers should question their overseas suppliers about the use of asbestos at any point in the supply chain.