February 23, 2019

Labor vows to remove asbestos from 1200 schools

$50 million would be spent on audits and removing asbestos that poses an immediate risk to students and teachers.

$50 million would be spent on audits and removing asbestos that poses an immediate risk to students and teachers. Photo: Rob Gunstone

Asbestos in 1200 Victorian state schools would be removed by 2020 under an “ambitious” $100 million Labor Party plan.

Again visiting a marginal sand-belt seat, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews made a pitch to parents, vowing to conduct a full audit of state government schools to identify asbestos and remove it.

The Sunday Age reported this week that teachers and principals had made an election-eve plea for asbestos to be fully removed from all schools after a secret state government audit found some are so plagued with the material that buildings need to be cordoned off or cleaned up immediately.


Of the 368 audits released, only 30 schools were asbestos-free.

Under Mr Andrews’ plan, $50 million would be spent on audits and removing asbestos that posed an immediate risk to students and teachers.

Another $50 million would be spent to accelerate the retirement and replacement of 250 old portable classrooms which are not part of Labor’s $510 million capital works program already outlined.

Labor conceded it was an “ambitious target” and that $100 million was a down payment for the first stage.

Labor education spokesman James Merlino said the Napthine government had dropped the ball on asbestos in schools over the past four years.

“What kind of message does it send to parents and to school communities that you have stickers across our school buildings, across Victoria, saying there is deadly asbestos and then do nothing about it?” Mr Merlino said.

But the Coalition said the plan was an under-costed hoax and Mr Andrews did not understand the facts.

“If ‘Dodgy Dan’ had proper costings, he would know that the cost of removing asbestos from schools is closer to $1 billion than $100 million,” a Coalition spokesman said.

“If he did his homework he would know that there are hundreds of audits of schools, and under this government funding for asbestos removal has more than doubled.”

The government said schools had asbestos management plans and conducted three-monthly checks, with training provided to key staff.

Victorian Principals Association president Gabrielle Leigh welcomed the announcement, and said principals would be pleased a government would finally take responsibility for asbestos in schools.

“I’m hoping $100 million actually covers it. We’ve been calling on the government about asbestos and asbestos labelling and how schools need support for this,” she said.

Ms Leigh said schools didn’t have the resources to properly deal with the problem.

Oakleigh Primary School and Kindergarten would be one of the beneficiaries of the funding.

Principal Jack Fisher said the asbestos had to be constantly monitored in case of damage.

“This has been an ongoing issue for many decades,” he said.

Mr Fisher said removing asbestos in government schools was just the tip of the iceberg.

“I’m conscious of the fact that asbestos is most likely in a number of public buildings, including early childhood centres, kindergartens, independent schools, community centres and other government buildings,” he said.

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Labor vows to remove asbestos from 1200 schools

No asbestos in Glasgow fire smoke


No asbestos in Glasgow fire smoke

Asbestos lurking

A $320,000 project to create an “environmental playground” adjacent to America the Beautiful Park has been halted pending further investigation of asbestos unearthed during excavation.

The discovery of buried asbestos tiles will delay the project for up to 120 days to allow for mitigation and regulatory oversight and approval, city officials say. The site, which lies on the southwest side of the park area and north of Cimarron Bridge, is enclosed with a chain-link fence and is not accessible to the public, according to the city.

In July, Colorado Springs Utilities was performing rough grading along Monument Creek as an in-kind contribution to the America the Beautiful Creekside Project, which is largely funded by Great Outdoors Colorado (“We’ve got your beach,” News, July 2). “During these activities, Utilities personnel encountered historical undocumented artificial fill material, which included potential asbestos-containing floor tiles adhered to concrete rubble,” Utilities spokeswoman Patrice Lehermeier says via email.

Lehermeier says the material, discovered in the ground less than 10 feet deep, was identified as non-friable asbestos, less dangerous than friable asbestos, which if inhaled is a known carcinogen.

“Utilities and City personnel have taken steps to stabilize the site for the protection of human health and the environment, which have included the removal of visible potential asbestos containing materials from the surface of the excavated areas and the on-site stockpile,” she says.

Utilities also notified the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, and the city has retained an environmental consultant to assist in following regulatory requirements. Utilities has applied a “tackifier,” a sticky substance that bonds to surfaces and minimizes emissions from the asbestos, which Lehermeier says is not a threat to water in the creek.

While Lehermeier says officials have yet to determine the exact size of the asbestos-ridden area, Parks Department official Chris Lieber says via email that the tiles are concentrated in 75 square feet.

“We are currently working with our consultant [Pinyon Environmental] to develop an estimated cost for addressing the asbestos-containing material,” Lieber says. “The overall project timeline is anticipated to be delayed by approximately 90 to 120 days,” which includes time for state regulatory review.

The creekside project aims to expand the floodplain, enhance riparian habitat, and provide a transition from park to creek. The work includes adding trails, boulders, logs, boardwalks and play areas.

“The project design is currently being re-evaluated to ensure protection of park users and the environment,” Lehermeier says. “To complete the rough grading activities under the original project design, around 2,000 cubic yards of additional soil needs to be excavated and removed from the site.”

It’s the second time in recent years that pollutants have emerged in the area of the park. In March 2013, Kat Tudor and Don Goede sued the city, alleging suspected cancer-causing contaminants blew onto their Smokebrush Foundation property immediately north from a demolition site at 25 Cimino Drive.

The city had been in the process of razing a Utilities building, which sat atop a site that hosted a gas plant from 1880 to 1931 and left behind coal tar, which contains carcinogens. The case is pending while the city appeals a District Court ruling that denied the city’s motion to dismiss.

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Asbestos lurking

Federal Eye: Report: EPA asbestos experiment threatened public health

September 26

The federal agency in charge of protecting human health and the environment caused a threat in both of those areas while experimenting with a relatively new method for asbestos control, according to a watchdog report released Thursday.

The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general said the EPA overlooked violations of environmental law and disregarded research guidance while studying an alternative approach to demolishing asbestos-containing buildings.

“This resulted in wasted resources and the potential exposure of workers and the public to unsafe levels of asbestos,” the report said.

Auditors found that the research also lacked proper oversight or even an agreed-to goal. The project cost about $3.5 million for contracting, staff time and other expenses between 2004 and 2012.

“The high-dollar cost, potential public health risks, and failure of the [alternative method] to provide reliable data and results are management-control problems that need to be addressed,” the report said.

Asbestos is a human carcinogen. Exposure to the fibers, which were once commonly used for insulation, can cause deadly health problems such as lung cancer and mesothelioma.

EPA standards require trained technicians to remove asbestos from buildings before demolition in order to prevent the fibers from entering the air. But the agency wanted to test an alternative method: Wetting materials before and during the wrecking-and-removal process. The technique is already allowed for buildings that are on the verge of collapse.

The EPA research came as part of an nearly 20-year old initiative to find innovative and better approaches for protecting the environment and public health. In this case, the project backfired.

Auditors said the EPA “did not adequately address health and environmental issues,” adding that “key decisions on health and safety issues … were allowed to go unresolved.” The agency used its enforcement discretion to ignore violations of environmental law to support the experiment, according to the report.

The inspector general recommended that the EPA require its research to follow controlled processes. The agency agreed with the proposals and has already completed many of them.

“We continually are improving our research protocols and processes to achieve the highest possible scientific standards to protect the American public and our environment,” EPA press secretary Liz Purchia said in a statement. “We have made significant changes to our research planning process to require that all research includes oversight procedures and input from senior managers.”

The EPA has not approved the alternative asbestos-control method, and the agency will not use it as part of its standards for emissions and air pollutants, Purchia said.

Josh Hicks covers the federal government and anchors the Federal Eye blog. He reported for newspapers in the Detroit and Seattle suburbs before joining the Post as a contributor to Glenn Kessler’s Fact Checker blog in 2011.

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Federal Eye: Report: EPA asbestos experiment threatened public health

Asbestos found at former school site


Asbestos found at former school site

Rottnest Authority confirms asbestos

Island Authority confirms white asbestos found on Rottnest

WA News

The Rottnest Island Authority says it has

The Rottnest Island Authority says it has “robust and effective asbestos management processes”.

The Rottnest Island Authority has confirmed a substance found by a member of the public last week is white asbestos.

The substance was found outside bungalows in the Bathurst area, north of Thompson Bay, and on Thursday Liberal MP Alyssa Hayden said there was high-risk asbestos on the island that had been identified as easily disturbed.

But Rottnest Island Authority acting chief executive Greg Ellson said the substance, which has been confirmed as white or chrysotile asbestos, was of “very low risk”.

“The material was intact and non-friable [hard to break down],” he said.

“In this condition, it was of very low risk to anyone staying in the units or passing by.”


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Rottnest Authority confirms asbestos

District evacuates Fishtown school over asbestos

Gallard said the action was taken in response to allegations by Jerry Roseman, an expert in occupational health and safety for the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers’ Health & Welfare Fund.

Roseman and Arthur Steinberg, head of the PFT’s Health and Welfare Fund, are concerned about the district’s handling of a massive asbestos-removal project that has been underway since last fall at Penn Treaty.

Roseman told the Daily News that he “saw children walking within 15 feet of bags of asbestos waste” left Tuesday on a stairwell landing. The bags should have been be disposed of immediately in a trash bin, he said, adding that air samples at the school had significant levels of asbestos.

Gallard said the district was taking precautions even though Roseman’s contention should not be an issue.

“It is not unusual for us to have an asbestos-abatement project and children in the same area,” Gallard said.

Steinberg said the district was taking an adversarial approach to the issue.

“This administration treats us as adversaries and, obviously, they treat kids and parents with a lack of respect as well,” Steinberg said. “Otherwise, they wouldn’t allow this to occur.”

The PFT alleges these health and safety issues exist at the school:

* Varied results between air samples taken by the district and the union, and protocols weren’t followed.

* Other projects are also underway, adding more risk to the site.

* The district is less open and transparent about the project with PFT officials than in previous years when the two parties were more collaborative.

* The scope of the project has been troublesome, Steinberg and Roseman said. In addition to the four floors where asbestos must be removed in about 130 areas, workers are replacing the boiler system.

“It’s exceedingly challenging and difficult, and not going smoothly,” Roseman said.

The district disagrees. Gallard said a representative from the Department of Public Health’s Asbestos Control Unit is on site every day.

Also, city Health Department spokesman Jeff Moran said that “the project is inspected by the city two to three times a week.”

The Health Department’s Air Management Services on Tuesday found some violations at Penn Treaty after the PFT voiced concerns. The department cited both the abatement contractor, Delta/BJDS, and the air-monitoring firm, Criterion Labs, for failing to have proper signage and for not properly securing a shaft-enclosure entrance, according to the citation records.

“The work is done under the eye of the Asbestos Control Unit,” Gallard said. “We are very confident of the work done by the Health Department on behalf of the children of Philadelphia and making sure the district follows the regulations and programs for workers and individuals in the building.”

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District evacuates Fishtown school over asbestos

ADAO’s Sixth Congressional Staff Briefing Calls for Congress to Take Action to End Asbestos Exposure


The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the largest independent non-profit organization in the U.S. which combines education, advocacy, and community to help ensure justice for asbestos victims, will be conducting its sixth congressional briefing today in Washington, DC. Held from 12:00 – 1:00 pm EDT in the U.S. Senate Dirksen Building, the briefing will include well known asbestos experts from the medical, industrial, and environmental communities – providing more than one hundred years of knowledge within a highly educational hour.

The briefing, “Asbestos: The Impact on Public Health and the Environment”, underscores the need for meaningful asbestos reform legislation, and points to the fatal flaws in current Senate Bills: “Chemical Safety Improvement Act of 2013” (S. 1009) – a TSCA reform measure, and the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2014” (S. 2319), neither of which address asbestos dangers nor protect asbestos victims. The briefing will cover the latest information on the asbestos crisis, and will include experts in the field and messages from constituents.

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases claim the lives of more than 10,000 Americans each year and imports continue. Most Americans unfortunately do not know how to recognize asbestos and do not realize that its dangers continue, even in their own homes, schools, and public buildings. In 1984, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimated there were asbestos containing materials in most of the nation’s approximately 107,000 primary and secondary schools and 733,000 public and commercial buildings. During the briefing, ADAO will also call on Congress to investigate continued asbestos imports and initiate a new study to evaluate the risk of vermiculate insulation in millions of homes.

“Although many people—perhaps even Members of Congress—mistakenly believe that asbestos is a declining threat, the recent asbestos emergency within the halls of Congress should serve as a sobering reminder that this man-made disaster continues to plague unsuspecting Americans in homes, schools, and workplaces,” stated ADAO Co-Founder and President Linda Reinstein. “Both chambers of Congress have unveiled legislation to reform the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA), which governs the use of asbestos and thousands of other chemicals. Unfortunately, instead of banning known killers like asbestos, these bills as drafted do nothing to protect the public from toxic substances and even weaken and eliminate existing safety measures. In addition, the so-called FACT Act allows liable asbestos related companies to delay recovery and deny compensation for victims, in addition to violating victims’ privacy. It is time for legislation with true asbestos reform and justice for victims, and for the additional research and education needed to protect Americans from the dangers of asbestos. Americans can’t identify asbestos or manage the risk and ADAO feels it is imperative that Congress investigates the present dangers of asbestos, especially Libby Vermiculite Insulation, which was widely used throughout our country. Enough is enough; it is time for action.”

Briefing Presenters and Topics Include:

  • Asbestos: History, Facts, and Stats – Barry Castleman, ScD, Environmental Consultant
  • Diagnosing and Treating Asbestos-Related Diseases – Christine Oliver, MD, MPH, MS, FACPM
  • Asbestos Exposures in Homes, Schools, and Workplaces – Tony Rich, Industrial Hygienist
  • Asbestos Took My Son Away – Sandra Neuenschwander, Mesothelioma Victim
  • Asbestos Impact: Medically, Legally, and TSCA Reform – Linda Reinstein, President, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

Despite its known dangers, there is still no global ban on asbestos, and it continues to claim lives. Exposure to asbestos, a human carcinogen, can cause mesothelioma, lung, gastrointestinal, laryngeal, and ovarian cancers; as well as non-malignant lung and pleural disorders. The World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 workers around the world will die every year of an asbestos-related disease, equaling 300 deaths per day.

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

Media Relations



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ADAO’s Sixth Congressional Staff Briefing Calls for Congress to Take Action to End Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos policy up for comment

Dubbo City Council has put a draft policy for dealing with deadly substance asbestos on exhibition for public comment.

The document specifies the organisation’s responsibilities to minimise exposure to residents, the public and council employees and has some information for “DIY” enthusiasts.

Asbestos is found in most homes built before the mid-1980s and can cause deadly cancers if the fibres become airborne and are inhaled.

Council environmental control manager Debbie Archer said council has a dual role in minimising exposure to asbestos as far as reasonably practical for residents and the public as well as council’s employees.

“The draft asbestos policy outlines the role of council and other organisations in managing asbestos, the relevant regulatory powers as well as general advice for residents on renovating homes that may contain asbestos,” Ms Archer said.

“There are five key areas of responsibility for council in relation to minimising risk of asbestos exposure – educating residents, managing land, managing waste, regulator responsibilities, and responsibility to workers.

The manager said health risks related to asbestos were low if it were left undisturbed, but the risk rose when undertaking home renovations or demolition work, particular in buildings constructed before 1990.

“It is important to remain vigilant when dealing with potentially hazardous material and the draft policy clearly articulates council’s responsibilities,” Ms Archer said.

In 2012 then-local government minister Don Page said there had already been at least 4700 deaths from mesothelioma, a type of cancer associated with exposure to asbestos, in Australia since records began in the early 1980s, with more than 25,000 more expected to die from it over the next 40 years. The draft asbestos policy can be downloaded from the council website www.dubbo.nsw.gov.au and public submissions close on June 9.

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Asbestos policy up for comment

Axing of asbestos watchdog shocks head

Axing of asbestos watchdog shocks head

NationalPolitical News


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