The tidal surge associated with Tropical Cyclone Yasi—a Category 5 system—on
February 3, 2011, culminated in asbestos-containing material (ACM) becoming
comingled with soil, sand, vegetation, and other debris in the communities of Tully
Heads and Hull Heads in Queensland, Australia. The situation was a major concern and
the area was deemed by the Queensland Government a priority due to the potential public
health risk. The immediate challenge was that no agreed-upon operational framework
existed between key response organizations for handling ACM after a tidal surge. This
resulted in the development of strategies for addressing this situation during the response.
An expansion of “declared disaster officers” under Queensland’s
was required to allow licensed asbestos contractors to enter and clean up public
and private land at Tully Heads and Hull Heads. This declaration was the first time a
group of people other than enforcement officers had been given such powers in
Queensland. The situation was handled effectively; however, lessons have been learned
and improvements can be made to enhance efficiency, planning, and reporting.