Firefighters have been called to douse the site of a 19th-century Melbourne pub that was illegally demolished to stop asbestos blowing into the air.
The Environment Protection Authority confirmed the presence of asbestos at the site of the former Corkman Irish Pub, known as the Carlton Inn, on Wednesday.
High winds are forecast for the rest of Thursday, which has forced the EPA to call the MFB for help.
Firefighters dampened the construction site in the morning to limit any asbestos dust leaving the site.
The move was only a “precautionary measure”, with the EPA assuring the community is safe.
“Advice we have received to date suggests the risk to the community from asbestos is low,” EPA metro manager Daniel Hunt said in a statement.
Worksafe will also be monitoring the air at the site and will investigate the demolition.
The Victorian Planning Authority, Heritage Victoria, the Victorian Building Authority and Melbourne City Council will also work on whether there is a case for punitive action.
The pub was demolished on the weekend despite a stop work notice, a heritage overlay, and a lack of demolition or planning permits.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle says penalties for the developers could reach into the millions.
“I think we’re getting to the point of well over $1 million if the maximum penalties of these breaches are applied,” he told ABC on Thursday.
He is working to see what power the council has in making the developers reinstate the building, whether it be the whole pub or just the facade.
The pub was a popular venue for Melbourne University students, who have begun an online petition to see it restored, which more than 9400 people have signed.
The company that owns the site must install signage on the site by Friday, informing the public about the asbestos, and by Monday, must have covered the site properly so that no asbestos can escape.
The EPA and numerous authorities have been trying to get a hold of the developers Stefce Kutlesovski and Raman Shaqiri for days, but have been unsuccessful.
“I’m not aware of anybody who has successfully contacted them,” Cr Doyle said.
“You can’t hide forever.
“They have to crawl out of whatever stone they’re under and face the music.”
If the developers do not dispose of the asbestos covered material properly, they could face a fine up to $758,350, the EPA said.