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October 19, 2018

Half of all Mr Fluffy asbestos home owners join ACT government buyback

The demolition of Mr Fluffy asbestos homes across Canberra is expected to get under way after June this year with more than half already acquired by the ACT government.

Acting Chief Minister Simon Corbell announced on Friday more than half of all homeowners had accepted offers made through the buyback program, four months before the scheme closes.

Already 511 offers have been accepted from the 1021 affected properties in the ACT.

Mr Corbell said the latest results showed many affected homeowners were taking the opportunity to move on to another property.

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“I encourage homeowners who are still considering whether or not to enter the buyback program to discuss their individual circumstances with the Asbestos Response Taskforce around what support can be provided,” he said in a statement.

The government now owns 131 properties and is overseeing security and maintenance.

A pilot demolition program of a small number of affected properties will start in late March to confirm procurement, demolition and communications processes.

Two of the properties included in the pilot will be public housing.

“The Mr Fluffy response is not only an ACT government, but an ACT community response,” Mr Corbell said.

“It is an issue affecting 58 suburbs across the territory and has a cost to our community of at least $400 million, even after the resale of remediated blocks. It is, and will continue to have, a significant impact on the ACT for years to come.”

This week Chief Minister Andrew Barr said some compulsory acquisitions could be required if affected homeowners decided not to join the buyback scheme before June 30.

He warned homeowners they would not receive a better offer as a result of not signing up.

Mr Corbell said the taskforce would be working closely with the community ahead of the demolition program to ensure safety and security.

“Reducing the impact to the community through efficient scheduling of demolition works will also be a paramount consideration,” he said.

Tenders for the demolitions are being finalised, a spokeswoman for the Asbestos Taskforce said last week.

The government has confirmed it owns affected houses in the following suburbs: Forrest, Ainslie, Downer, Griffith, Hackett, Narrabundah, O’Connor, Watson, Yarralumla, Kambah, Wanniassa, Chapman, Chifley, Curtin, Duffy, Farrer, Fisher, Garran, Holder, Hughes, Lyons, Mawson, Pearce, Rivett, Stirling, Torrens, Waramanga, Weston, Aranda, Charnwood, Cook, Evatt, Flynn, Giralang, Higgins, Holt, Latham, Macgregor, Macquarie, Melba, Page, Scullin, Spence, Weetangera.

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Half of all Mr Fluffy asbestos home owners join ACT government buyback

NSW Government should buy and demolish 5300 homes with Mr Fluffy insulation: report

Moving on: Chris and Charmaine Sims with their son Zac and daughter Alma. They are leaving Mr Fluffy behind after buying a new home in Kambah in the ACT.

Moving on: Chris and Charmaine Sims with their son Zac and daughter Alma. They are leaving Mr Fluffy behind after buying a new home in Kambah in the ACT. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

More than 5300 NSW homes may be riddled with deadly Mr Fluffy asbestos insulation and the state government should demolish and buy affected properties, a parliamentary report has found.

The findings, unanimously supported by government, Labor and crossbench MPs, leave the Baird government potentially facing a $5 billion bill should it follow the Australian Capital Territory government’s lead and buy back the homes.

Mr Fluffy is the former contractor that used loose-fill asbestos fibres for roof insulation in homes in Canberra and parts of NSW in the 1960s and 1970s. There are fears that the fibres pose acute health risks.

NSW authorities are investigating how many properties contain loose-fill insulation. The report said 59 homes have been identified so far “with the potential for there to be many hundreds more”.

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PricewaterhouseCoopers has been commissioned to investigate the extent of Mr Fluffy fibres in NSW. An interim report said that, based on the firm’s installation capacity, up to 5376 homes may contain the insulation.

Using a different calculation, based on the distance between Canberra and affected NSW council areas, the assessors found up to 1110 homes may be affected. Their report said the discrepancy between the figures highlighted the need for further investigation.

The parliamentary report condemned “historic inaction of successive NSW governments in responding to this issue”. The gravity of evidence received by the inquiry promoted the report to be released two months earlier than expected.

It found the presence of loose-fill asbestos fibres rendered a home “ultimately uninhabitable”, posing risks to residents, visitors and the public.

The report recommended a statewide buy-back and demolition scheme for all affected residences, based on the ACT model.

The federal government is providing a concessional loan of up to $1 billion to the ACT to buy back and demolish about 1000 houses affected by Mr Fluffy. The NSW government may face a bill five times that, if the cost is extrapolated to the PricewaterhouseCoopers worst-case estimate.

The federal government has refused financial assistance to NSW, saying legal responsibility for affected homes lies with the state government.

The parliamentary report said owners of Mr Fluffy homes should be legally required to disclose that their home is affected, so prospective buyers are informed.

It also called for affected NSW properties to be tagged to protect tradespeople and emergency services workers. In the case where home occupants wished to immediately leave their homes, financial assistance for crisis accommodation and short-term remediation work should be provided, the report said.

Free ceiling inspections are presently available for NSW properties built before 1980 in areas thought to be affected. The report said such testing should be mandatory – potentially involving tens of thousands of homes.

Twenty-six NSW council areas have been identified as potentially affected by loose-fill asbestos. In Sydney, they include Manly, Parramatta, North Sydney, Ku-ring-gai, Bankstown, Warringah and The Hills councils.

A spokesman for Finance and Services Minister Dominic Perrottet said the government would consider the report.

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NSW Government should buy and demolish 5300 homes with Mr Fluffy insulation: report

Asbestos pushed in Asia as product for the poor

VAISHALI, India (AP) — The executives mingled over tea and sugar cookies, and the chatter was upbeat. Their industry, they said at a conference in the Indian capital, saves lives and brings roofs, walls and pipes to some of the world’s poorest people.

Their product? Asbestos. Outlawed in much of the developed world, it is still going strong in the developing one. In India alone, the world’s biggest asbestos importer, it’s a $2 billion industry providing 300,000 jobs.

The International Labor Organization, World Health Organization, medical researchers and more than 50 countries say the mineral should be banned; asbestos fibers lodge in the lungs and cause disease. The ILO estimates 100,000 people die from workplace exposure every year.

But the industry executives at the asbestos conference, held in a luxury New Delhi hotel, said the risks are overblown.

Instead, they described their business as a form of social welfare for hundreds of thousands of impoverished Indians still living in flimsy, mud-and-thatch huts.

“We’re here not only to run our businesses, but to also serve the nation,” said Abhaya Shankar, a director of India’s Asbestos Cement Products Manufacturers Association.

Yet there are some poor Indians trying to keep asbestos out of their communities.

___

In the farming village of Vaishali, in the eastern state of Bihar, residents became outraged by the construction of an asbestos factory in their backyard.

They had learned about the dangers of asbestos from a school boy’s science textbooks, and worried asbestos fibers would blow into their tiny thatch homes. Their children, they said, could contract lung diseases most Indian doctors would never test for, let alone treat.

They petitioned for the factory to be halted. But in December 2012, its permit was renewed, inciting thousands to rally on a main road for 11 hours. Amid the chaos, a few dozen villagers demolished the partially built factory.

“It was a moment of desperation,” a teacher said on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from the company. “There was no other way for us to express our outrage.” The company later filed lawsuits, still pending, accusing several villagers of vandalism and theft.

___

Durable and heat-resistant, asbestos was long a favorite insulation material in the West.

Medical experts say inhaling any form of asbestos can lead to deadly diseases 20-40 years later including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, or the scarring of the lungs.

Dozens of countries including Japan, Argentina and all European Union nations have banned it entirely. Others like the U.S. have severely curtailed its use.

The asbestos lobby says the mineral has been unfairly maligned by Western nations that used it irresponsibly. It also says one of the six forms of asbestos is safe: chrysotile, or white asbestos, which accounts for more than 95 percent of all asbestos used since 1900.

Medical experts reject this.

“All types of asbestos fiber are causally implicated in the development of various diseases and premature death,” the Societies of Epidemiology said in a 2012 position statement.

Russia now provides most asbestos on the world market. Meanwhile, rich nations are suffering health and economic consequences from past use.

American businesses have paid out at least $1.3 billion in the largest collection of personal injury lawsuits in U.S. legal history. Billions have been spent stripping asbestos from buildings in the West.

Umesh Kumar, a roadside vendor in Bihar’s capital, has long known there are health hazards to the 3-by-1 meter (10-by-3 foot) asbestos cement sheets he sells for 600 rupees ($10) each. But he doesn’t guide customers to the 800 rupee tin or fiberglass alternatives.

“This is a country of poor people, and for less money they can have a roof over their heads,” he said.

___

The two-day asbestos conference in December was billed as scientific, though organizers admitted they had no new research.

One could say they’ve gone back in time to defend asbestos.

The Indian lobby’s website refers to 1998 WHO guidelines for controlled use of chrysotile, but skips updated WHO advice from 2007 suggesting all asbestos be banned. Its executive director, John Nicodemus, dismissed the WHO update as “scaremongering.”

Many of the speakers are regulars at asbestos conferences in the developing world.

Toxicologist David Bernstein said that while chrysotile could cause disease if inhaled in large quantities or for prolonged periods, so could any tiny particle. Bernstein consulted for the Quebec-based Chrysotile Institute, which lost its Canadian government funding in 2012.

He presented an animated video showing a type of white blood cell called a macrophage breaking down a chrysotile fiber and carrying it out of the lungs.

“We have defense mechanisms. Our lungs are remarkable,” Bernstein said.

Other studies indicate, however, that chrysotile collects in the membrane lining the lungs, where the rare malignancy mesothelioma develops and chews through the chest wall, leading to excruciating death.

Research such as Bernstein’s frustrates retired U.S. Assistant Surgeon General Dr. Richard Lemen, who first advocated a chrysotile ban in 1976.

“His presentation is pretty slick, and when he puts it on animation mode, people think: Wow, he must know what he’s talking about,” Lemen said by telephone from Atlanta.

___

In Vaishali, the permit for the asbestos plant was canceled by Bihar’s chief minister last year. But Indian officials remain divided and confused about the risks.

India placed a moratorium on new asbestos mining in 1986, but never banned use of the mineral despite two Supreme Court orders.

The position of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new government is unclear.

Meanwhile, Vaishali’s resistance has sparked other protests, including in the nearby district of Bhojpur.

“Many people are not aware of the effects, especially the illiterate,” said Madan Prasad Gupta, a village leader in Bhojpur, sipping tea at the roadside tea shop he built decades ago when he had no idea what asbestos was.

Over his head: a broken, crumbling asbestos cement roof.

___

Follow Katy Daigle on Twitter at http://twitter.com/katydaigle

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Asbestos pushed in Asia as product for the poor

Medical exams underway on staff of navy ships where asbestos detected

Medical screenings on civilian employees who worked on the navy ships where asbestos was detected are being carried out.

According to the Minister of State at the Departments of An Taoiseach and Defence Paul Kehoe, all staff on board LE Ciara, LE Orla and in the Naval Service dockyard, including the civilian workforce, have been briefed on the situation to date.

Answering a parliamentary question, he said that all Naval Service personnel who may have come into contact with asbestos have been screened by the Naval Medical Officer. “Medical screening of civilian employees by an occupational health practitioner has commenced and will be completed in the coming weeks,” said Kehoe.

Asbestos 

Earlier this year while work was being carried out on both LE Orla and LE Ciara material which was suspected as being asbestos was found on both ships. A full survey and analysis of the ships confirmed that the material was asbestos.

Kehoe said that the HSA launched its own investigation into the incident and this is ongoing.

“I am advised that the HSA has visited the Naval Base a number of times and has served the Naval Service with an improvement notice under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005,” he said.

Since the discovery of asbestos, air sampling and monitoring has been conducted by an external contractor on both ships and in the transport workshops and the samples taken were found to be safe.

As part of the requirements under the HSA improvement notice, the Naval Service has engaged an external company, Abestaways, who are specialists in asbestos removals, to undertake the deep “environmental clean” of the two ships.

This clean-up commenced on 26 May and is estimated to take a number of weeks.

On completion of this process an independent asbestos consultancy company, Phoenix Environmental, will carry out air monitoring, analysis and third party assurance and reissue a re-occupational certificate as required by the HSA.

Kehoe said that in the early 2000s, an external asbestos company was brought in to inspect the ships. The company gave the fleet the all clear,despite asbsetos being present in some of the ships.

“That consultancy is no longer in business,” said Kehoe.

Serious situation 

“I am advised by the Naval Service that a full asbestos audit of all ships in the fleet will be carried out and in the interim a full asbestos risk assessment will be carried out prior to any work commencing. As I mentioned previously, this matter is being treated with the utmost seriousness and attention by the Department of Defence and the Naval Service,” he said.

Kehoe said the Naval Service will be launching a formal accident investigation team to investigate all aspects behind this occurrence and “to ensure that there is no repetition in the future”.

The minister said that while the cleaning is underway, the Naval Service is only currently operating six of its ships, just 75 per cent of its resources.

Read: Hundreds of Irish soldiers were exposed to asbestos while serving overseas EXCLUSIVE>

Banking inquiry committee to meet again today (in private)

Plane makes late-night emergency landing at Cork Airport after suspected fuel leak

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Medical exams underway on staff of navy ships where asbestos detected

Retrospective asbestos checks urged


Retrospective asbestos checks urged


MARC GREENHILL

Last updated 05:00 06/06/2014

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A Fletcher EQR contractor is calling for retrospective asbestos testing of earthquake-damaged homes repaired before mandatory checks were brought in.

Bruce West, an accredited EQR repairer since 2011, criticised the home repair programme’s asbestos testing regime in an open letter to the Earthquake Commission (EQC), Fletcher EQR and Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee.

He was concerned that testing of homes built between 1940 and 1990, in which asbestos could be present in lathe and plaster, flooring, soffits, roofing and exterior cladding, did not become mandatory until June 2012.

His fear was “thousands” of repairs had been completed without testing, “with around 12,000 workers, together with occupants of repaired homes potentially exposed to unidentified or uncontained asbestos hazards in those properties”.

West’s suspicions were further aroused when a Fletcher EQR memo announcing the mandatory testing, sent to contractors on June 25, 2012, was dated January 15, 2011.

He wanted all homes meeting the risk criteria to be “urgently” tested for asbestos by an independent authority, and for Fletcher EQR to be immediately suspended until its methods were “comprehensively audited”.

West told The Press that checking work completed before June 2012 should have been an “obvious priority”.

“If you’re that concerned with ongoing work, then you should be equally concerned with the work that’s already been performed,” he said.

“There’s no reason for it not to be done, other than the inconvenience and expense to EQC and Fletcher, but then they should have thought of that earlier.”

West said he was aware asbestos could be found in stipple ceilings, soffits and garage linings, but not lathe and plaster.

He had not considered the risks because the pace of the work programme meant he “had to just get on with it”.

West accepted the onus was on contractors to understand risks on their building site, but felt EQR should have given asbestos greater emphasis.

He said he was surprised, given Fletcher’s construction experience, that testing had not been mandatory “since day one”.

EQC business services manager David Lowe said a guideline on managing asbestos was issued in January 2011.

Until June 2012, contractors were required to arrange testing for all houses assessed as potentially containing asbestos.

The mandatory testing introduced in June 2012 was “well in excess of the legal minimums”, he said.

“The improvements made over the life of the programme make [the home repair programme] one of the best examples of asbestos investigation and management in New Zealand.”

The memo dated January 2011 that West had received was an error “possibly due to incorrect completion of an automated memo template”, Lowe said.

West was not convinced the date on the memo was a mistake. “The memo was obviously meant to be a big deal and issued on that date, but it wasn’t,” he said.


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Retrospective asbestos checks urged

Axing of asbestos watchdog shocks head

Axing of asbestos watchdog shocks head

NationalPolitical News

Date

Finance Minister Senator Mathias Cormann

Said the agencies facing the axe are considered by the Coalition to be “window dressing”: Finance Minister Mathias Cormann. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

A battle is looming over the fate of the federal government’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, which was earmarked for axing in the budget papers.

National asbestos support groups, lawyers and unions say the public will suffer continued deadly exposure if the agency is abolished.

An estimated 40,000 people are expected to die in a third wave of asbestos-related disease following contact with the carcinogen in their homes and workplaces.

The national commission of audit recommended this month that the only federal body addressing asbestos management and safety be abolished as a cost-saving measure.

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Axing of asbestos watchdog shocks head

Saskatchewan adds to asbestos registry rules in bid to better protect workers

REGINA – Saskatchewan is putting new requirements in place for an asbestos registry that Labour Minister Don Morgan says will help protect workers from exposure.

Occupational Health and Safety rules have been amended to include additional forms of asbestos to be reported and to update required information.

A law making asbestos reporting mandatory for Crown corporations, school districts, health regions and provincial government buildings was enacted last November.

Building owners have to submit information about the presence of asbestos to the registry.

Owners who have already provided information will have to review the changes to the rules and update their submissions if needed.

Compliance and enforcement are to come into effect for all asbestos- related activities on June 1.

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Saskatchewan adds to asbestos registry rules in bid to better protect workers

Questions Asked Over Dumping of Asbestos


Questions Asked Over Dumping of Asbestos

Denis O’Rourke MP
Spokesperson for
Christchurch Earthquake Issues
12 February 2014

Questions Asked Over Dumping of
Asbestos

New Zealand First is calling on
Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee to deny that
toxic asbestos waste is being transported from quake-hit
Christchurch to Southland, or that it soon will be.

“Can
the Minister deny that there is a proposal to cart
asbestos-contaminated material to a substandard
landfill?,” asks spokesperson for Christchurch Earthquake
Issues Denis O’Rourke.

“Can the Minister reassure New
Zealanders that all asbestos-containing materials will be
permanently dumped in a properly built and designated
facility and put an end to the rumours that are
circulating?

“Can the Minister confirm that material
containing asbestos will not be transported in containers,
trucks or wagons that have not been specifically built for
the purpose?

“Authorities warn that there is a health
risk associated with asbestos if it is exposed or damaged.
Breathing in fibres can lead to breathing difficulties and
even lung cancer. If asbestos is left undisturbed it is
considered safe.

“That’s why there are guidelines for
safe work practices and transportation.

“Christchurch
has a purpose built, multi-million dollar landfill at Kate
Valley with trucks specially designed to carry waste to the
site north of Christchurch.

“There is no need to be
shopping around for a cut-price deal to get rid of the
Christchurch stockpiles.

“There is no need to even
consider transporting asbestos-contaminated materials in
unsuitable containers to an inferior facility.

“With the
demolition of an unprecedented number of buildings
containing asbestos in Christchurch, safety is of paramount
importance.

“New Zealand First calls on the Minister to
provide reassurances to the people of Canterbury, Southland
and places in between on the handling, transporting and
dumping of asbestos-contaminated material,” says Mr
O’Rourke.

ENDS

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Questions Asked Over Dumping of Asbestos

£350m for asbestos cancer victims

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£350m for asbestos cancer victims

Asbestos registry now law in Saskatchewan

REGINA – The Saskatchewan government has marked the death of a man who advocated for asbestos safety by officially enacting a new law making asbestos reporting mandatory.

Thursday’s proclamation of the law will require Crown corporations, school districts, health regions and the provincial government to ensure their buildings are listed on the province’s on-line registry if there is asbestos present anywhere in their facilities.

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The law is named for Howard Willems, who died a year ago Thursday of cancer caused by inhaling asbestos while on his job as a federal food inspector.

“We’re the first (province) in Canada that has mandated a registry and the first one that has brought it up,” said Workplace Safety Minister Don Morgan.

He gave Willems the credit for making it happen.

Willems spent years inspecting old dairy and honey facilities, which often used asbestos in building materials.

Before his death he formed the Saskatchewan Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, aiming to have the government create a public registry of buildings with asbestos in them.

On the anniversary of his stepfather’s death, Jesse Todd was there to see the new measure proclaimed.

“It’s a tremendous day,” he said. “It’s very gratifying to see it pass. It’s been a long year.”

Todd stressed that this is “Howard’s legacy, hoping that the recognition of the right to know for workers will help keep them safe.”

© The Canadian Press, 2013

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Asbestos registry now law in Saskatchewan