January 23, 2019

Justice too late for asbestos victim Marian Ciopicz

Carolyn Ciopicz, left, and Marian Ciopicz, right, with their grandson.

Carolyn Ciopicz, left, and Marian Ciopicz, right, with their grandson. Photo: A

As a child, Marian Ciopicz used to play with his friends in piles of asbestos waste behind the now-notorious Wunderlich factory in Sunshine North.

“It was simply a terrific area for a child to play,” Mr Ciopicz told his lawyers in a deathbed statement in 2014.

“We threw handfuls of waste at each other, they exploded on impact, played hide and seek and war games and so on. When playing there it sometimes felt like we were in a snow storm. The air was full of white or grey dust and we were completely covered in it — hair, ears, all over our clothes and so on. It was great fun.”

The Wunderlich factory in McIntyre Road, North Sunshine in 1956.

The Wunderlich factory in McIntyre Road, North Sunshine in 1956. Photo: Supplied

Mr Ciopicz said children regularly played in the area behind the factory, which extended down to the railway line, but was not fenced off.


It’s believed more than 20 people have contracted asbestos-related diseases from exposure to the factory, which operated until 1982. During peak production in the 1950s to the 1970s, clouds of asbestos dust rose above the factory roof, shrouding nearby streets, coating cars and making its way into homes.

According to Brimbank Council the asbestos on the former factory site — now the Westend Market Hotel — was capped and buried, but nearby residents have raised concerns about rabbits digging in the area and disturbing the deadly waste. It says the EPA is working with the current site owners to manage the risks.

After battling asbestosis for two years, Mr Ciopicz, a 69-year-old father of three and grandfather of six, died in October last year. After he died, his widow, Carolyn, kept up his battle for compensation and recognition that his illness had been caused by exposure to the site.

While justice came too late for Mr Ciopicz, on Thursday a Supreme Court jury awarded his family $467,000 in damages, the first asbestos-related payout in Victoria in a decade.

The jury found that the owner and operator of the former Wunderlich factory, Seltsam Pty Ltd, had negligently allowed Marian Copicz’s exposure to asbestos dust and fibres.

Slater and Gordon lawyer Michael Magazanik said the company had neglected to put up signs warning neighbours of the dangers of the site, or properly fence the McIntyre Road factory.

The jury was told that trucks leaving the factory spilled asbestos dust over local roads, and that fans inside the factory blew asbestos fibres into the air above the factory.

Silvio Comin, who worked at the Wunderlich factory, told the trial there was so much asbestos waste piled in the backyard behind the factory that he had to wear sunglasses to cope with the glare.

He said that dust at times escaped four to five metres into the air above the factory and when it was windy, it was “just like a snowstorm”.

Mr Magazanik said the family’s case had not been about money, but recognition.

“Most of all, this case is about recognition that this factory had caused their husband’s, father’s, grandfather’s death. They only wanted proper recognition. They wanted justice.”

In a statement released by her lawyers, Mrs Ciopicz spoke of her husband and family’s determination to get justice.

“Marian would have wanted me to finish what he started,” she said.

“Marian was a brave man who fought his illness to the very end. If it weren’t for that asbestos factory and its disgraceful pollution we would still have him here.

“Wunderlich let little children use its toxic dump as a playground. That is unbelievable. And so is the fact that they forced us to trial to get justice for Marian.”

Slater and Gordon says it has had dozens of calls from people concerned about their exposure to the site. It is the first asbestosis legal claim to run to verdict in Victoria in a decade. Previous cases have settled out of court.

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Justice too late for asbestos victim Marian Ciopicz

Protect yourself from asbestos with the proper training

Updates: The ACT government has recently passed new laws relating to dealing with asbestos.

Updates: The ACT government has recently passed new laws relating to dealing with asbestos. Photo: Virginia Star

The ACT government has recently passed new laws when dealing with asbestos that will take effect from January 1, 2015. The new laws will include new regulations and two codes of practice developed by Safe Work Australia.

The key changes in the regulations remove the old rule where anyone could remove bonded asbestos if the area was less than 10 square metres. After January 1, 2015, the removal of bonded asbestos will now have to be carried out by a licensed asbestos removalist.

The only exemption to the above requirement is when the work is minor or routine maintenance. An example may be if asbestos sheeting is fixed to a wall in a bathroom or laundry and an electrician is putting in a new powerpoint.

I expect the penalties will be significant if you are found working with and removing asbestos. These laws and fines will also apply to home handymen and do-it-yourself builders and renovators.


Worksafe ACT will be releasing further details to both industry and the public shortly.

The new laws will change the licensing requirements for asbestos assessors and removalists by lifting the qualifications and training required to conduct the above type of work.

Another component of the amended regulations clears up some terminology and clearly replaces old terms such as a ‘competent person’ with ‘licensed asbestos assessor’. Also, some additional signage will be required when renovating a building when asbestos is present.

My message to everyone, especially DIY renovators, is please get some asbestos-awareness training. It is a risk not worth taking for the well-being of you, your family and friends. Once the fibres enter your lungs it can’t be reversed, so eliminate the risk.

The Housing Industry Association runs asbestos awareness training for industry and the public. They only take four hours and are a valuable piece of knowledge for anyone who likes doing their own repairs. Once armed with this training you will have the knowledge to identify where asbestos could be present and then engage a qualified asbestos assessor to carry out an assessment.

If asbestos is present get it removed by a qualified asbestos removalist. Spend the money and have asbestos removed and disposed of properly.

For example, asbestos can be present in many forms. It is often in putty that was used to hold in panes of glass in old timber windows and doors. Just by chiselling out old putty could release asbestos fibres. Get trained.

Neil Evans is the Housing Industry Association’s ACT and southern NSW executive director

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Protect yourself from asbestos with the proper training

U of M prof diagnosed with mesothelioma speaks out over asbestos

Beth Macdonell, CTV Winnipeg

Published Friday, October 3, 2014 3:47PM CST

Last Updated Friday, October 3, 2014 6:28PM CST

A University of Manitoba professor with a rare form of cancer often linked with exposure to asbestos has a warning. Patricia Martens wants others to be aware and be safe.

Martens, 62, is a professor of health sciences at the University of Manitoba and is an Order of Canada recipient. She has travelled extensively, researching trends in health and health care.

In February 2013, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a cancer linked to asbestos exposure.

Martens was told she had nine to 12 months to live. She tried chemotherapy but stopped after doctors found it wasn’t working. Radiation is not possible because of the way the cancer spreads.

She doesn’t know exactly when she was exposed, but this type of cancer can form as long as 50 years after exposure.

Martens believes the asbestos exposure could have happened while studying or working on the U of M campus, but she can’t say for sure, as the cancer can take up to 50 years to show signs.

The Canadian Association of University Teachers believes at least four cases, including Martens’ one, could possibly be linked to asbestos at the University of Manitoba. The institution has many old buildings that used asbestos, said Brenda Austin Smith from the group.

The university is working to eradicate asbestos, to make the buildings safe and sends out emails to staff about the asbestos abatement project, where crews will be working to remove it and to advise people to steer clear, said Austin Smith.

Martens doesn’t plan to sue the university and isn’t bitter. Instead, she plans to make the most of the time she has left, spending time with family and warning others that asbestos is still out there.

The federal and provincial governments have information on strict rules regarding asbestos and its removal.

Martens would like to see it completely banned in Manitoba.

The University of Manitoba issued a statement Friday afternoon.

“It is very unfortunate that a University of Manitoba professor is ill and we feel for Dr. Martens and her family. It is difficult to trace the exact cause or event in such cases, but the University of Manitoba has and will continue to comply with Manitoba Health and Safety legislation to ensure a healthy and safe work environment,” it said in the statement.


U of M prof diagnosed with mesothelioma speaks out over asbestos

Justice for Newcastle former labourer diagnosed with asbestos-related illness

A shipyard labourer diagnosed with mesothelioma says “justice has been done” after lawyers secured him a six-figure settlement

A shipyard labourer diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer after being exposed to the deadly dust during his career has won compensation.

John Canham, from Shieldfield, Newcastle, was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the lungs, in January this year after suffering from shortness of breath. He is currently undergoing chemotherapy for the terminal cancer.

Asbestos experts at law firm Irwin Mitchell negotiated an undisclosed six-figure settlement for John from three companies he worked for which will help cover the cost of care as his condition deteriorates. It will also provide some financial support for his family in future.

John said he feels he feels “justice has been done”.

The dad-of-two added: “I remember when I used to fit steel plates to the boilers which were already lagged with asbestos; the handsaws we used got covered in dust and as we worked in such as confined space, there was no way of avoiding the dust.

“My colleagues and I were never given any protective clothing or masks whilst we worked with asbestos and I was also never warned about the potential dangers of inhaling the substance.

“It was devastating for my family and I to find out years later that this exposure to asbestos had made such a horrific impact on my health and the illness has completely changed my life. We are all anxious about what the future may hold but I am grateful to have the support around me from my loved ones.

“The settlement will be a big help financially when it comes to my care and will help support my family to look after me and help me to battle on against this incurable disease and it does feel like justice has been done as my former employer should have done something to protect me and my colleagues from this.”

John worked as a labourer at various shipping yards and engineering firms in the North East.

Isobel Lovett, an asbestos-related disease expert at Irwin Mitchell’s Newcastle office, said: “The past year has been incredibly difficult for John and his family as they have had to come to terms with his illness, which has seen his health rapidly decline.

“As the delay between exposure to asbestos dust and the onset of symptoms of mesothelioma is more than 30 years in most cases, people like John are only now discovering their health has been affected as a result.

“Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related cancer for which there is sadly no cure. Unfortunately John’s case is not isolated and it’s always sad to learn of such exposure to asbestos when, even in the 1960 and 70s employers knew of the risk associated with the dangers of inhaling the lethal dust.

“No amount of money can make up for the illness John has, but the settlement will provide him and his family with some financial security for the future.”

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Justice for Newcastle former labourer diagnosed with asbestos-related illness

Winnipeg contractor in botched asbestos job has criminal past

A Winnipeg contractor who was recently sanctioned for a botched asbestos removal job has a long criminal history that includes convictions for fraud and theft, the CBC News I-Team has learned.

Workman Industries owner John Sirenn’s criminal record dates back to 1959 with convictions for cashing thousands of dollars in fake cheques and for stealing copper wire and electronics from other businesses, according to court documents.

The documents also show he once fled from a traffic check stop when he was not licensed to drive. His vehicle crashed into a hydro pole that fell within inches of a woman’s head.

“Absolutely disgusted,” said Jon Cameron, whose family filed a complaint against Workman after crews botched an asbestos remediation job at his parents’ house, sending asbestos into the air.

“I mean, how is it that somebody who is consistently violating laws and regulations, putting people’s well-being at risk, how is he still able to work in this city?”

In August, Sirenn and his crew were caught on video dragging asbestos-covered materials — without wearing protective gear — through Rafaelita and Victor Cameron’s home in Point Douglas.

Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and Health issued stop-work orders against Workman and Sarte Heating and Cooling, as well as ordered Workman to decontaminate the house.

However, that work wasn’t done. The Camerons have been out of their home for nearly two months.

“There’s no way that this man should still be working. There’s no way he should still have a company,” Cameron said of Sirenn.

Sirenn has refused to speak to CBC News. Officials from Sarte Heating and Cooling have not responded to a request for comment.

No protective masks

Cameron’s mother, Rafaelita Cameron, had hired Sarte Heating and Cooling to replace their old boiler system with a new high-efficiency furnace.

However, the company could not carry out the installation until the old boiler — which was covered in asbestos — was removed.

So Sarte arranged for Workman Industries to go to the Point Douglas home on Aug. 7 to do the remediation.

When the Workman crew arrived, the family said they noticed the workers were not wearing protective masks or equipment. As well, they said they were not instructed to stay away.

Rafaelita Cameron said she confronted one of the workers when the family realized there were no barriers created to separate the basement job site from the rest of the home.

Jon Cameron videotaped as Workman crews removed the old asbestos-covered boiler in pieces without wrapping any of it in plastic.

The family has since decided to pay out of pocket to get the house remediated so they can replace the boiler and move back in.

Another company, Associated Environmental Services, has since been hired to carry out the asbestos remediation.

‘It was just deplorable’

AES project manager Jason Driedger said his crews had to vacuum and wipe down every surface in the house — a task that he said took them two weekends.

“I came in and took an initial look at the place and I was shocked,” he said.

“Open bags of materials and, I mean, it was just deplorable — as a homeowner, nothing you would ever want to see and nothing you should see.”

Driedger said the workers that Workman Industries hired may not have even known the dangers of what they were handling.

Undisturbed asbestos-containing materials generally don’t pose a health risk, according to Health Canada and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

It’s only when the asbestos is disturbed, and the dust is emitted into the air, that it poses a risk to human health, the agencies say. In significant quantities, asbestos fibres can cause asbestosis and lung cancer.

Workman Industries was issued a cease and desist order to stop using the Certificate of Recognition (COR) Program logo on its website.

The COR certification is obtained through the Construction Safety Association of Manitoba and typically means a company has a safety and health program that meets national standards.

When CBC News contacted the association last month, it said Workman Industries has never been certified by them.

“It really turns my stomach because we’re trying so hard in this industry to make it safe for everybody and to do a proper job, and then you see somebody who just comes in and completely ruins people’s houses,” Driedger said.

“It’s just terrible and it makes the rest of us, the legit companies, look really bad.”

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Winnipeg contractor in botched asbestos job has criminal past

Former smoker’s award won’t be reduced in Md. asbestos case

In regards to the “use plaintiffs” argument, the appeals addressed whether they were precluded from recovering damages by not formally joining in the proceedings.

The Wallace & Gale Asbestos Settlement Trust was the only remaining defendant at the time of trial in February 2011. Each plaintiff alleged asbestos exposure from asbestos-containing insulation applied to pipes.

Wallace & Gale was a Baltimore-based insulation and roofing contractor that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 1985, thus setting up the trust to handle its asbestos liability.

After a 15-day trial, the jury awarded each of the plaintiffs separate awards against Wallace & Gale.

Then in May 2011, the trial court entered orders in the four cases reducing the jury verdicts after application of the cap on non-economic damages, bankruptcy settlement payments and joint tortfeasor credit for cross claims against another defendant.

Decedent Levester James worked as a laborer at the Baltimore-based copper refinery American Smelting and Refining Company’s tank room from 1968 to 1972. He died from lung cancer in July 2004.

The jury awarded him and his family $2,035,684.71. The final judgment was reduced to $980,209.89.

Decedent Mayso A. Lawrence, Sr., worked as a laborer at the American Smelting and Refining Company and in Bethlehem Steel’s 68-inch hot strip mill at Sparrows Point. He died from lung cancer in October 2007.

The jury awarded him and his family $2,930,532.09. The final judgment was reduced to $782,621.24.

Decedent Rufus E. Carter worked as a laborer and crane operator at the American Smelting and Refining Company from 1966 to 1975. He died from lung cancer in November 2003.

The jury awarded him and his family $2,017,302.50. The final judgment was reduced to $976,203.41.

Decedent Roger C. Hewitt, Sr. worked as a laborer, mechanic steamfitter and pipefitter at the Pennsylvania Railroad from 1943 to 1944, and as a laborer and crane operator at Bethlehem Steel from 1946 to 1978.

Hewitt was also a long-time smoker. According to the opinion, he smoked a half-pack to a full pack of cigarettes every day for 65 years.

He died from lung cancer in December 2008.

During trial, Wallace & Gale expert Dr. Gerald R. Kerby testified that Hewitt’s tobacco use is roughly 75 percent at fault for causing the decedent’s lung cancer, while his asbestos exposure is roughly 25 percent at fault.

However, the trial court did not allow the jury to apportion damages, saying it would be an unscientific, wild guess.

“If the court of appeals wants to send us down that path to another swamp, I suppose we could do that,” the trial court concluded. “It’s an interesting issue. Technologically, it’s interesting. But we don’t have any basis for drawing an intelligent conclusion regarding what we’re going to plug into the matrix. So no, we’re not doing that.”

As a result, the jury awarded Hewitt and his family $2,686,686.07. The final judgment was reduced to $1,325,495.95.

Wallace & Gale appealed to the Court of Special Appeals, which then sent it to the Court of Appeals of Maryland.

In regards to the apportionment issue, the lower appeals court held that the trial court erroneously refused to allow Kerby’s testimony and jury instructions on apportionment. The high court disagreed, saying the lower court improperly relied on New Jersey case law rather than Maryland law.

Greene explained that apportionment of damages is only appropriate when the injury is “reasonably divisible” and when there are two or more causes of injury.

“Where an injury is reasonably – or theoretically – divisible, the burden of proof would shift to the defendant to prove that apportionment of damages is appropriate,” Greene wrote.

However, the court concluded that Hewitt’s injury is not reasonably divisible.

“While there are many variables that go into the causal effects of tobacco and asbestos exposure,” Greene wrote, “there is evidence that the effect is multiplicative in nature, which we are satisfied is indicative of an indivisible injury.”

Greene explained that under a comparative negligence system, “a plaintiff’s contributory negligence does not bar recovery, but rather reduces proportionately his or her damages in relation to his or her degree of fault.”

He added that apportioning damages to the plaintiff’s smoking history is equivalent to holding Hewitt accountable.

The court concluded that the trial court properly excluded Kerby’s testimony and rejected apportionment of damages.

Raker dissented, saying the Court of Special Appeals made the correct decision when it ruled that apportionment concerns causation rather than comparative negligence principles.

“In my view,” Raker wrote, “a categorical rule that death is an indivisible injury incapable of apportionment speeds past an accepted principle of law: death can be capable of apportionment as to damages, but not as to fault.”

Furthermore, Raker argued that the majority improperly relied solely on the plaintiffs’ experts at trial to support its conclusion against apportionment when it excluded Kerby’s testimony.

As a result, Raker suggests remanding the case so a hearing could be held to determine if Kerby’s opinion met the standards for scientific testimony before it was accepted or rejected.

“Doing so would have permitted the court to make an informed decision as to whether there was a reasonable basis for apportioning the injury,” Raker wrote. “The majority’s per se rule prevents a trial court from evaluating the merit of emerging scientific theories of causation.”

In regards to the “use plaintiffs” argument, the trial court held that “there is no question that use plaintiffs have to be included. They’re supposed to be included. They’re necessary parties.”

“Use plaintiffs” in this case refer to the decedents’ families. They are not considered typical plaintiffs because they never formally joined the action.

Regardless, this court agreed with the trial court that the “use plaintiffs” are still able to recover damages.

Greene explained that Maryland law does not require a formal joinder by the designated use plaintiffs in a wrongful death action.

“Absent any clear direction or requirement that formal joinder was necessary, on the facts of this case, the use plaintiffs’ knowing consent to the litigation brought on their behalf and active participation in the litigation was the functional equivalent of joinder,” he wrote.

Greene added that according to Maryland law at the time of trial, the use plaintiffs were real parties in interest and were not required to formally join in order to share in an award, especially because they were listed as plaintiffs in several of the filings, they were deposed, testified at trial and were subject to cross examination.

“It’s obvious that everyone involved, including Respondent’s counsel, considered the use plaintiffs to be parties to the litigation,” Greene concluded.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Heather Isringhausen Gvillo at asbestos@legalnewsline.com

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Former smoker’s award won’t be reduced in Md. asbestos case

Solicitor's asbestos warning after death of pensioner

Solicitor’s asbestos warning after death of pensioner

York Press: Ray Brown died from the lung condition malignant mesothelioma

Ray Brown died from the lung condition malignant mesothelioma

A SOLICITOR has warned that asbestos disease does not have a ‘sell-by date’ after an inquest heard how an 86-year-old York man had become its latest victim.

Howard Bonnett, of Corries Solicitors, said that in recent times, he had been dealing with many more case of men and women in their 80s who were suffering the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.

He said York Acting Coroner Jonathan Leach had recorded at an inquest that Raymond Brown, of Rawcliffe, had died because of the cancer.

“The inquest heard evidence that Mr Brown had been exposed to asbestos in the 1960s and 1970s during his work as a pump engineer on large scale industrial projects including various power stations and factories,” he said.

“Mr Brown developed problems with breathing in February and following investigations he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in March, and succumbed to the disease at York Hospital on April 5. He leaves a wife Margaret and children Christine and David.”

He said Mr Brown’s death was another sad tale of mesothelioma affecting an otherwise normal man.

“At 86, he rightfully thought he had missed this sad scourge which has affected too many people in the York area. I am sorry to say that asbestos disease does not have a “sell by “ date.

“Raymond’s death shows that if you have been exposed to asbestos then you have the risk of diseases like mesothelioma for the rest of your days.”

Mrs Brown said the family had known for many years that Raymond had developed asbestos damage to his lungs.

“We had hoped that he would not be another sad statistic of this awful disease,” she said.

“For many years, he suffered with ill health and we wish he had been around to have fought this disease and to have seen justice done.

“We hope other asbestos victims and their families keep an eye out on their health and make sure they get an early diagnosis and get the best treatment that they can “

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Solicitor's asbestos warning after death of pensioner

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, in Conjunction with the Bob Rahe Family, Organizes the “Jammin’ for …


The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the largest
independent non-profit asbestos victims’ organization in the U.S. which
combines education, advocacy, and community support, joins forces with
the Bob Rahe Family to host the “Jammin’ for Asbestos Awareness,”
concert on September 26, 2014 in Omaha, Nebraska.

WHO: The Rahe Family in loving memory of Bob Rahe
who lost his battle with mesothelioma


WHAT:  “Jammin’ for Asbestos Awareness” Event – An
All-Ages Concert  


WHEN:  Friday, September 26, 2014, National Mesothelioma
Awareness Day

Doors open at 6 pm; Event begins at 7 pm


WHERE: The Slowdown at 729 North 14th Street in
Omaha, Nebraska


WHY: Raise asbestos awareness and funds to prevent exposure
to eliminate asbestos-caused diseases


HOW: Purchase
tickets online
or at the door. http://theslowdown.com/event.cfm?id=161647

The first 50 ticket holders to enter The Slowdown will receive a
free event t-shirt!

Price: $20

Questions or Inquiries: Email jam@asbestosdiseaseawareness.org
or visit The
Slowdown website
for information about the bands.


Local Bands:

, CleverLumpy
and Cosmic


National Singers/Musicians:

, ADAO National Spokesperson

, Mesothelioma Patient


“The Bob Rahe Family supports the efforts of ADAO in all respects,”
stated the family spokesperson for the event. “Bob Rahe was a father,
brother, and uncle who came into contact with asbestos during a summer
job. We had no idea that over 30 years later, he would be diagnosed with
a deadly cancer relating to this exposure. Many people are unaware that
the U.S. continues to import asbestos into our country, and that we are
still utilizing products that contain this poisonous hazard. We are
organizing this event to promote education and awareness. Maybe, one
day, with all of us armed with much more knowledge than we had
yesterday, we can look towards a cure.”

“ADAO expresses our sincere gratitude to the Bob Rahe Family for
organizing this event in memory of Bob,”
said Linda Reinstein, ADAO President and Co-Founder. “It is
reprehensible that asbestos is still legal and lethal in the USA and
claims the lives of 30 Americans each day. While promising mesothelioma
research continues, prevention remains the only cure.”

About the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was founded by
asbestos victims and their families in 2004. ADAO is the largest
non-profit in the U.S. dedicated to providing asbestos victims and
concerned citizens with a united voice through our education, advocacy,
and community initiatives. ADAO seeks to raise public awareness about
the dangers of asbestos exposure, advocate for an asbestos ban, and
protect asbestos victims’ civil rights. For more information, visit www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org.


Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)

Kim Cecchini, 202-391-5205

Media Relations



Lisa Rahe Thompson, 402-206-6444

Family and Event Representative


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The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, in Conjunction with the Bob Rahe Family, Organizes the “Jammin’ for …

Asbestos removal worried family

Asbestos removal worried family


Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014

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A Christchurch community board chairwoman has got into a spat with a demolition company over her concerns about their handling of debris from a house containing asbestos.

Last week Avondale resident Andrea Cummings wrote on her Facebook page that she was shocked to see workers wearing hazardous materials suits and masks loading demolition material into a bin next door to her home.

No-one had told her what was happening and she feared the material contained asbestos, potentially putting her family “only 3 metres away” at risk.

A WorkSafe New Zealand spokesman told The Press it visited the demolition site last week and reviewed a video posted online by Cummings.

“On the basis of the information that we’ve got, we’re satisfied that the work is being undertaken appropriately,” he said.

Cummings said the company had tried to bully her into withdrawing her concerns.

She is the chairwoman of the Burwood-Pegasus Community Board, but said her comments were made “as someone who wants to advocate for the community”.

The posts were made on her personal Facebook page but were visible to the public.

Pro Tranz Ltd owner Gerard Daldry said the company had not bullied Cummings but wanted her to apologise for making public comments that were “completely not true”.

“We’ve bent over backwards to help her. What she has done is actually quite detrimental to the whole thing.”

Pro Tranz was required to notify only WorkSafe New Zealand when it came across asbestos, but he agreed the company should have told Cummings about what was happening next door to her.

“Normally we do. That was probably a shortfall on our behalf,” Daldry said.

Asbestos specialists removed most of the contaminated material before demolition work started last week but some under the floor had not been accessible until the top of the building was removed.

Daldry said the bin near Cummings’ fence was for general demolition material, not material containing asbestos.

It had all been dampened down with a hose to minimise any dust before it was picked up and moved into the bin.

People had a “right to worry” about asbestos, he said, but Cummings and her family were never at any risk of exposure.

He said she should have discussed her concerns with him or WorkSafe New Zealand rather than posting publicly on Facebook.

“I don’t want this to have an adverse effect on the industry. People need to be better informed. “Let’s make this something that’s a learning curve for everybody,” Daldry said.

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Asbestos removal worried family

Family demand asbestos-test result

Family demand asbestos-test result


Last updated 05:00 04/06/2014

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A Canterbury family fears they have been exposed to asbestos, but say Fletcher EQR and the Earthquake Commission (EQC) are refusing to hand over the results of a test.

Architectural technician David Reynolds said he was told by “reliable sources” that the test came back positive for asbestos, but he had been unable to get confirmation from authorities, despite asking for months.

Reynolds said the suspected contaminated material was cut by workers who were not wearing protective clothing or masks and while he was present.

Some was carried through the kitchen without care and some was left exposed in the home’s only toilet while his young children were home, he said.

“[I] live with the fear that my family was exposed to asbestos.”

He was seeking legal advice, including whether to get an independent test done.

A Fletcher spokesman told The Press the result of the second asbestos test was passed on verbally, although he was unable to confirm the date that happened.

“Our standard is to also provide the written report, and we apologise for not having done so in this case.”

The spokesman confirmed the result was positive for asbestos and related to the exterior cladding of the house.

Reynolds said the results were only “hinted” at and had never been formally passed on.

“More than just telling us, they need to show us the report and tell us where [the asbestos] is.”

Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) member Andy Dickerson raised concerns about the handling of asbestos in Canterbury’s rebuild in May 2011 “because I was concerned at what I was seeing in the community”.

Some groups were still trying to “play down” the importance of the issue, he said.

“I believe this is a major issue for Christchurch going forward. The CDHB has a statutory role to protect public health and should not be swayed from carrying out this function.”

It was likely that anyone who had been exposed to asbestos would not show any health effects “for many years”, he said.

WorkSafe New Zealand had investigated and closed five complaints about the handling of asbestos during Canterbury’s rebuild, and was currently investigating a sixth complaint against Fletcher.

A WorkSafe spokesman said proceedings for the case were adjourned by the Christchurch District Court on Friday.

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Family demand asbestos-test result