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June 23, 2018

Fairfield residents fear post-storm asbestos threat

Cancer link to two asbestos factories

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Queensland Health’s executive director of the Health Protection Unit, Sophie Dwyer, confirmed the “raw data” from the Queensland Cancer Registry showed 20 people who had contracted mesothelioma lived within a 1.5-kilometre radius from the two plants.

However, the risk from asbestos from Gaythorne’s former asbestos history is now low, according to Ms Dwyer.

She confirmed that “sheets” of old asbestos were being found in a creek leading into Kedron Brook.

However, Ms Dwyer told residents at a public meeting at the Gaythorne RSL on Tuesday night that the risks from asbestos had declined since the plant closed.

“People should be aware that the site has not been used as an asbestos factory for over 20 years, so any general ambient contamination outside buildings is likely to have washed away with subsequent rain and flood events,” Ms Dwyer said.

“The greatest risk would have occurred when the factory was in operation and during close-down and clean-up.”

Ms Dwyer said Queensland Health was more than aware of public concerns in the two areas of Brisbane because there was a “30 to 40-year latency period” for asbestos-related diseases, between exposure and the emergence of mesothelioma.

On Wednesday morning Ms Dwyer said there were many variables that had to be cross-checked before the significance of the cancer disease close to the two asbestos factory sites could be classed as “significant”.

She said that included whether those people who contracted asbestos-related diseases had moved recently to the locations, whether they had worked at the factories, or whether the sufferers were the partner of a person who worked at either of the factories.

That research was part of a four-pronged study now underway into cancer-related diseases at Gaythorne, Mitchelton and Newstead, Ms Dwyer said.

She said the raw data was “important” but it was too early to tell if the asbestos-related disease statistics were “significant”.

Three Queensland Government departments – Environment, Health and Occupational Health and Safety with the Attorney-General’s department – and Brisbane City Council have been drawn into a multi-agency investigation.

Ms Dwyer said teams were doing inspections of dump sites being notified by residents, talking to James Hardie about the operations of the two plants and trying to locate former staff and management of the Wunderlich factory.

“Queensland Health is working with other agencies to determine whether there are any current health risks for residents living in close proximity to the former plant.”

This review will include tests of asbestos that has been found and checks of results found by a private company employed by a Brisbane media outlet.

“An environmental sampling program of the area surrounding the former Wunderlich factory will incorporate recognised testing standards and sampling methods,” Ms Dwyer said.

“If significant, above-background levels of contamination are detected as part of this investigation, then recommendations relating to health protection or mitigation measures to manage ongoing risks to the community will be provided to the appropriate agencies.”

Amanda Richards, general manager of Queensland’s Asbestos-Related Disease Society, on Tuesday said northside residents were now worried after several “dumps” of old asbestos sheeting were found.

“Every day we are getting more phone calls from people who lived in the area or who worked at the factory,” Ms Richards told Fairfax Radio 4BC.











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Cancer link to two asbestos factories

Gaythorne asbestos meeting

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Amanda Richards, general manager of Queensland’s Asbestos-Related Disease Society said northside residents were now worried after several “dumps” of old asbestos sheeting were located.

“Every day we are getting more phone calls from people who lived in the area or who worked at the factory,” Ms Richards told Radio 4BC.

Ms Richards said people told her organisation of different dumping grounds for broken-up asbestos from the factory.

“It seems to be spreading out wider and wider every time I get another phone call,” she said.

She said the concerns had emerged after newer residents move into the suburb and began to create gardens and renovate older homes.

“They are starting to find asbestos in their yard. It may even be that they may not even be able to dig because their house may be on an asbestos dump.”

She said residents were finding small pieces of older blue and brown asbestos in the garden.

However she in one area she went to look at near Kedron Brook Creek there was “sheet upon sheet upon sheet” of asbestos.

She said local residents told her that trucks from the factory would dump asbestos near a drain that runs into Kedron Brook.

Ms Richards said she had spoken with residents about “older dimpled fibro” sheeting made from asbestos.

Concerns were first raised last month about the former Wunderlich plant in suburban Gaythorne.

Residents told a law firm specialising in asbestos-related claims of seeing clouds of dust in streets around the factory which left windows and washing coated in white powder.

It has been reported that 20 cases of asbestos- related compensations claims with former residents have been finalised, though this could not be confirmed on Tuesday night.

Ms Richards said it was now a Queensland Government responsibility to repair.

“Now that we know that these dumps are around, we need the government to deal with it,” she said.

“And whether it is public land or private land, something has to be put in place to either seal the asbestos off, or dig it up and dump it properly in the mines site.”

A Queensland Health spokesperson could not be contacted on Tuesday night.

ABC Television reported that Queensland Health representatives at the public meeting told residents that because the asbestos being found was old, any risk was “low”.

However Fairfax Media understands a state government investigation will identify where asbestos is being found in Gaythorne and Mitchelton and the history of the Wunderlich factory site.











Original article – 

Gaythorne asbestos meeting

SDRC, centre owners say asbestos handling 'best practice'

THE Southern Downs Regional Council (SDRC) and Rose City Shoppingworld owner the McConaghy Group have issued assurances that asbestos removal on the centre’s demolition site has complied with regulations.

The Daily News received several calls from concerned parties about an alleged lack of proper safety controls since work demolishing a range of buildings began on Saturday morning.

The work comes ahead of a planned $40 million expansion of the centre, with the buildings now gone including the former McDougall and Sons offices and the older half of the Plumbs Chambers site.

Work on the old Club Hotel was expected to start last night or this morning.

Callers expressed concern that workers appeared to not be wearing proper protective clothing when handling asbestos from a number of downed structures and that asbestos fibres were being blown around the Warwick CBD and adjacent Leslie Park.

Concern was also expressed at the work starting on Saturday morning when the CBD was packed with locals and visitors attending the Leslie Park markets and the Rodeo Street Parade.

Contractors returned at 7am on Monday.

One worker, clad in ordinary workwear, was this week observed wetting down parts of structures with a garden hose.

It was understood at least two complaints had been made to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland but the agency was unavailable for comment yesterday.

But a council spokeswoman confirmed they had received two complaints from “contracting businesses”, alleging “incorrect removal of asbestos”.

“As a result council’s Workplace Health and Safety and Environmental officers visited the site,” the spokeswoman said.

“They spoke to the supervisor and were satisfied work was in accordance with council requirements and did not need to refer the complaints to State Workplace Health and Safety.

“Council officers noted that warning signage and dust barriers were in place and hosing down of the area where an excavator is working to suppress dust was occurring.

“Plastic-lined bulk industrial skip bins were onsite containing asbestos material – the bins are covered with plastic prior to their removal from the site and transported out of the council area.”

The spokeswoman said council staff also noted, prior to the complaints, that contractors wearing suitable protective clothing and breathing masks “were removing potential asbestos material from buildings prior to their demolition”.

Work on the site is expected to be completed by the end of next week but could take an extra week if anything unforseen occurs.

It is expected that on completion the asbestos removal process will need to be signed off by council.

A spokesman for the McConaghy Group said their demolition contractors were complying with all health and safety regulations in regards to asbestos removal.

“Satisfactory air monitoring has been performed,” he said.

“Council is satisfied with all procedures in place.”

The Daily News yesterday emailed a series of questions to Gold Coast-based demolition contractor Bastemeyers but no response had been received by time of printing.

Continue reading:

SDRC, centre owners say asbestos handling 'best practice'

Asbestos can no longer be dumped at Ipswich waste centres

ASBESTOS can no longer be dumped at any of Ipswich’s waste centres after the potentially dangerous waste was banned from Riverview.

Ipswich City Council City infrastructure boss Cr Cheryl Bromage said the change to the Riverview Recycling and Refuse Centre now applied to domestic sources.

Cr Bromage said the council decided to stop accepting asbestos from residents at Riverview because it was too dangerous to manage at the site.

“Council is also concerned about the dangers to local residents transporting asbestos themselves,” she said.

“We feel that only licensed professionals should be handling, transporting and disposing of asbestos materials given the extra care which needs to be taken with these items.”

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Cr Bromage said the move would bring the Riverview centre into line with the Rosewood Recycling and Refuse Centre as it was not approved to accept asbestos waste from any sources.

“Alternative disposal options have been listed on council’s website to assist residents with the future disposal of asbestos,” she said.

City Management and Finance Committee chairman Victor Attwood said council also believed the State Government needed to mandate the disposal of all asbestos by a registered provider.

“We have contacted the State Government to let them know our thoughts on this matter and have asked them to take action to protect all Queenslanders,” Cr Attwood said.

“Asbestos is a material which needs to be handled with extreme care and we feel that residents should not be handling it.

“We would like to see a compulsory change made to the way asbestos is allowed to be handled in Queensland.”

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Original link:

Asbestos can no longer be dumped at Ipswich waste centres

Govt rejects asbestos claims

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The union maintains the partially demolished site is a public health disaster in the making, with broken cement sheeting causing wind gusts to blow the deadly fibres across the city.

Health fears were raised publicly last week when it was revealed the prominent CBD site, in the heart of Brisbane’s business district, was abandoned mid-demolition when the contractor, the Wacol-based P&K Demolitions went broke, owing $3.7 million to creditors.

The director of River City Asbestos Removals, the company contracted by P&K Demolitions to safely remove the cement sheeting, said he had not been able to declare some areas of the site safe, prompting fears thousands of city workers could unwittingly be inhaling the deadly airborne fibres.

Despite the departmental test results, CFMEU Queensland and Northern Territory branch president David Hanna said workplace health and safety officers had neglected their duties in properly supervising the demolition of the 1970s buildings, which they knew contained large amounts of asbestos.

“Everyone has known there has been asbestos there all along and that’s fine, if it’s managed well but it just hasn’t been,” he said.

“The asbestos has to be taken off in full sheets but this has been broken and parts have been pushed off the roof.

“There has been no reticulation system put in place, so there was no way to contain any of the dust that rose and spread.”

Mr Hanna said CFMEU members on site raised concerns about the asbestos removal procedures in early June, six months after the demolition process began.

He said all asbestos needed to be removed in a “soft strip” before demolition work commenced, which he alleged had not been the case.

Mr Hanna said the workplace health and safety officers should move quickly to install a reticulation system to prevent dust blowing off the site, despite its test results returning a negative finding for the fibres.

“It’s no good the department saying it’s not their responsibility, the department is there to protect the public to ensure legislation is adhered to,” he said.

“We think the department should ensure the asbestos is contained and removed in a proper manner and that means a sprinkler system needs to be set up as a precaution straight away.”

The Workplace Health and Safety spokesperson said sealed bags of asbestos remained on site at 300 George Street but that they that posed no public health risk.

“The sealed bags of asbestos still remain on-site, and demolition cannot resume until the bags are collected. It is the responsibility of the site owner to manage the safe removal of these bags,” the spokesperson said.

The developer, the Taiwanese-based Shayher Group, has not been available for comment.

The procurement process to find a new demolitionist is underway.

The CFMEU’s independent testing was undertaken by environmental consultancy Parsons Brinckerhoff. It did not undertake independent air testing at the site.











View the original here: 

Govt rejects asbestos claims

Government rejects union claims of asbestos risks

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The union maintains the partially demolished site is a public health disaster in the making, with broken cement sheeting causing wind gusts to blow the deadly fibres across the city.

Health fears were raised publicly last week when it was revealed the prominent CBD site, in the heart of Brisbane’s business district, was abandoned mid-demolition when the contractor, the Wacol-based P&K Demolitions went broke, owing $3.7 million to creditors.

The director of River City Asbestos Removals, the company contracted by P&K Demolitions to safely remove the cement sheeting, said he had not been able to declare some areas of the site safe, prompting fears thousands of city workers could unwittingly be inhaling the deadly airborne fibres.

Despite the departmental test results, CFMEU Queensland and Northern Territory branch president David Hanna said workplace health and safety officers had neglected their duties in properly supervising the demolition of the 1970s buildings, which they knew contained large amounts of asbestos.

“Everyone has known there has been asbestos there all along and that’s fine, if it’s managed well but it just hasn’t been,” he said.

“The asbestos has to be taken off in full sheets but this has been broken and parts have been pushed off the roof.

“There has been no reticulation system put in place, so there was no way to contain any of the dust that rose and spread.”

Mr Hanna said CFMEU members on site raised concerns about the asbestos removal procedures in early June, six months after the demolition process began.

He said all asbestos needed to be removed in a “soft strip” before demolition work commenced, which he alleged had not been the case.

Mr Hanna said the workplace health and safety officers should move quickly to install a reticulation system to prevent dust blowing off the site, despite its test results returning a negative finding for the fibres.

“It’s no good the department saying it’s not their responsibility, the department is there to protect the public to ensure legislation is adhered to,” he said.

“We think the department should ensure the asbestos is contained and removed in a proper manner and that means a sprinkler system needs to be set up as a precaution straight away.”

The Workplace Health and Safety spokesperson said sealed bags of asbestos remained on site at 300 George Street but that they that posed no public health risk.

“The sealed bags of asbestos still remain on-site, and demolition cannot resume until the bags are collected. It is the responsibility of the site owner to manage the safe removal of these bags,” the spokesperson said.

The developer, the Taiwanese-based Shayher Group, has not been available for comment.

The procurement process to find a new demolitionist is underway.

The CFMEU’s independent testing was undertaken by environmental consultancy Parsons Brinckerhoff. It did not undertake independent air testing at the site.











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Government rejects union claims of asbestos risks

Asbestos plan struck by government and councils

Asbestos plan struck by government and councils

Queensland

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Local councils will be responsible for asbestos removal for residential properties, while the state co-ordinate the removal from commercial dwellings.

Local councils will be responsible for asbestos removal for residential properties, while the state co-ordinate the removal from commercial dwellings. Photo: Virginia Star

The Queensland Government will indemnify local councils from asbestos removal risk as part of a five-year strategy to manage the safe removal of the deadly fibre.

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie launched the strategy with Local Government Association of Queensland president Margaret de Witt on Thursday.

Mr Bleijie said it ended “15 years” of discussions.

Local councils will now be responsible for asbestos removal for residential properties, while the state government will co-ordinate the removal for commercial dwellings.

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Asbestos plan struck by government and councils

Asbestos found at Telstra work site in north Brisbane, union raises concerns

The CWU says pieces of asbestos were left in the ground and covered with a thin layer of land fill.
ABC The CWU says pieces of asbestos were left in the ground and covered with a thin layer of land fill.

A union says it has grave concerns about work done by a Telstra contractor to the north of Brisbane, after finding asbestos near a recently replaced telecommunications pit.

Telstra’s infrastructure is being used to roll out the National Broadband Network (NBN), including old pits containing asbestos.

Coutts Contracting, which is under investigation, was responsible for replacing dozens of pits in Caboolture and Morayfield between August 2011 and October 2012.

A piece of asbestos was found near a replaced pit in the front yard of a house in Caboolture River Road at Morayfield.

Phil Hughes from the Communication Workers Union says nobody knows how long it has been there.

“It’s very dangerous because it’s dry and the sun breaks it down,” he said.

“If you look really closely, you can actually see the fibres.”

He says dangerous pieces of asbestos were left in the ground and covered with a thin layer of land fill.

“The contaminated soil would actually be under probably an inch or so of crusher dust; decomposed granite,” he said.

“So underneath that would be all your contaminated soil from the old asbestos pit with chunks… that would eventually work their way to the surface of the ground.

“How many school kids walk past here every day; walking right past that lethal piece of asbestos?”

Families live in street where asbestos was found

Resident Alex Chivers says he is shocked at the discovery.

“There’s a family over the road with three kids and there’s a whole group of kids moved into the units over the back there, plus my grandchildren turn up here all the time so I wouldn’t be real happy about them running around knowing there’s asbestos in the air,” he said.

A Telstra spokesman says the company is awaiting the outcome of an investigation by Queensland’s Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

“If there is any indication that contractors have failed to use appropriate procedures for the safe handling and disposal of potentially asbestos-containing material then we will take immediate action,” he said.

Coutts Contracting denies the claims and has refused to comment.

Comcare, the federal department responsible for investigating such claims, released a statement after sending workers to investigate.

“In its investigations, Comcare has not uncovered evidence of exposure to workers or the community, or breaches of the WHS Act.”

Comcare has received another 66 different complaints from around the country this year but, after investigations, found no breaches at any of those sites.

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Asbestos found at Telstra work site in north Brisbane, union raises concerns

Asbestos found on Graceville school oval

Asbestos has been found on the oval at Graceville State Primary School.

Asbestos has been found on the oval at Graceville State Primary School.

Graceville State School students and staff will have to wait until investigations are complete to learn whether asbestos debris found on the school oval has put them at risk.

However Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek was quick to say he thought it was “unlikely”.

Speaking outside parliament on Thursday, Mr Langbroek said the site had been immediately closed off when the debris was discovered and air tests were currently being conducted.

“We have a strong series of protocols that we enact whenever these issues are raised,” Mr Langbroek said.

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“These protocols are being followed and the safety of students and their teachers and the whole school community is what we are committed to.”

A letter sent to student’s homes on Wednesday alerted parents to the discovery.

The debris was found during construction work at the school.

The state government has budgeted $40 million over two years to remove asbestos from Queensland schools.
But Mr Langbroek said the process would take time.

“It is obvious that when you have a very, very big capital works program – and we have a number of schools that were built pre the 1990s and we are having a lot of construction and a lot of maintenance – we are going to have these issues of asbestos being uncovered in some of the older sites,” Mr Langbroek said.

The state’s School’s Asbestos Register, which details areas in schools where asbestos has been identified, has more than 9000 pages.

Asbestos, left undisturbed, poses no danger.

Construction workers were hosing down the Graceville school’s oval on Thursday morning.

In her letter to parents, acting principal Catherine Waldron said access to the oval had been restricted.

‘‘Testing has confirmed that the debris contains asbestos,’’ she wrote.

‘‘Repairs and a professional clean are to be undertaken. The area will remain restricted until a clearance is provided for its reuse. These precautions will ensure that all students and staff are kept safely away from the area.’’

Regional education director Chris Rider said ‘‘tight processes’’ were in place around asbestos management at schools.

‘‘We find asbestos from time to time during construction work,’’ he told 612 ABC Brisbane.

‘‘We’re on top of this and in control of it … everything is perfectly safe at Graceville.’’

Authorities are conducting air and soil tests at the school.

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Asbestos found on Graceville school oval