Asbestos has been found at the site of an unlawful demolition of a 19th-century Melbourne pub.

The Corkman Irish Pub, also known as the Carlton Inn, was demolished on the weekend despite a stop work notice, a heritage overlay, and a lack of demolition or planning permits.

The Environment Protection Authority tested the site on Tuesday, and on Wednesday confirmed the presence of asbestos.

The owners will be issued a notice to hold them to account for the waste and require them to prevent any asbestos from leaving the site, the EPA says.

They may also face fines if they don’t dispose of the asbestos properly.

“EPA is continuing it attempts to contact the site owners to inform them of the penalties that can apply if construction and demolition waste from the site is disposed of illegally,” EPA Metro Manager Daniel Hunt said in a statement.

“Anyone who dumps construction and demolition waste – or permits its illegal disposal – faces a fine of more than $7,500 or up to $758,350 if prosecuted.”

Students who live nearby the pub said they received no notice of the demolition and were worried about potential exposure to asbestos.

WorkSafe and the Victorian Planning Authority are also investigating, with widespread condemnation coming from the local council and the state government on the brazen demolition.

Planning Minister Richard Wynne has also referred the matter to the Victorian Building Authority and Heritage Victoria for investigation.

Developers Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqiri could face penalties of up to $200,000.

Victorian Planning Authority acting chair Bill Kusznirczuk said penalties were too low to deter dodgy developers dealing with multi-million dollar properties.

On Tuesday, Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle called the demolition “the most brazen and wanton act of destructive vandalism” he had seen.

The pub had been damaged by fire in August, but did not cause enough damage to warrant demolition, Mr Doyle said.

Attempts to contact the company behind the building’s destruction have been unsuccessful.