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June 23, 2018

No health risk with asbestos removal: Cera


No health risk with asbestos removal: Cera


Last updated 17:27 13/03/2015

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Asbestos being removed from Christchurch’s residential red zone does not pose a health hazard, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) says.

A red-zoned Dallington resident, living on the edge of green-zoned lane, became worried when asbestos removal workers in white suits turned up opposite her house on Friday. They took away a trailer load of debris.

“We walk every day there with our dogs,” she said.

“You’re right in the middle of all these houses and they’re not telling everybody.”

A Cera spokeswoman said contractors were hired to remove asbestos from properties in Dallington and Burwood to prepare for interim land treatment, such as levelling the land and planting grass.

“On some properties, [asbestos] material that has been used as a non-rot strip on the bottom of fences has been found,” she said.

“When the fence has been pulled or trees [and] vegetation along the fences lines have been removed, this has become visible.”

The fibres were bonded to the sheeting and were therefore “non-friable”.

“It is not likely to present a health risk,” she said.

Contractors followed Worksafe procedures when removing asbestos, hence the suits.

After structures, debris and unwanted vegetation were cleared, contractors tidied the Crown-owned land before the land was levelled, fenced off and planted with grass, she said.

In wetland areas like Bexley, invasive plants would be removed and wetland species left to regenerate naturally.

Dune grasses would be planted in sandy places like Southshore, she said.


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No health risk with asbestos removal: Cera

Asbestos remnants being removed from school remains


Asbestos remnants being removed from school remains


Last updated 05:00 13/01/2015

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Contractors are removing asbestos “crumbs” found in the remains of Aranui High School buildings demolished about four years ago.

Three buildings demolished at the school in 2010 as part of scheduled upgrades were removed but “some crumbs of materials remained buried and undisturbed”, Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure Rob Campbell said.

Surface materials were removed and the area isolated and the ministry engaged an expert consultant to investigate how to remove buried fragments.

The removal would be done before school reopened this year, he said.

“We have been advised that the risk to students or staff is minimal, as the materials which contained asbestos was buried undisturbed under the soil.”

Strict processes for managing asbestos would be carried out during any development, Campbell said.

Aranui High and community campus establishment board chairwoman Haneta Pierce said plans initially involved moving the original Maori whare from the high school onto the new site.

“Because of the asbestos, we can’t do that,” she said.

Aranui High principal John Rohs said the whare had a lot of cultural significance for the community and had been on the grounds for more than 30 years.

It had “a lot of asbestos in it which took us by surprise”, he said.

Original plans were to gift it to the new campus and Rohs was “deeply disappointed” it was no longer feasible.


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Asbestos remnants being removed from school remains

Asbestos remnants being removed from Aranui High School remants


Asbestos remnants being removed from school remains


Last updated 05:00 13/01/2015

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Contractors are removing asbestos “crumbs” found in the remains of Aranui High School buildings demolished about four years ago.

Three buildings demolished at the school in 2010 as part of scheduled upgrades were removed but “some crumbs of materials remained buried and undisturbed”, Ministry of Education head of education infrastructure Rob Campbell said.

Surface materials were removed and the area isolated and the ministry engaged an expert consultant to investigate how to remove buried fragments.

The removal would be done before school reopened this year, he said.

“We have been advised that the risk to students or staff is minimal, as the materials which contained asbestos was buried undisturbed under the soil.”

Strict processes for managing asbestos would be carried out during any development, Campbell said.

Aranui High and community campus establishment board chairwoman Haneta Pierce said plans initially involved moving the original Maori whare from the high school onto the new site.

“Because of the asbestos, we can’t do that,” she said.

Aranui High principal John Rohs said the whare had a lot of cultural significance for the community and had been on the grounds for more than 30 years.

It had “a lot of asbestos in it which took us by surprise”, he said.

Original plans were to gift it to the new campus and Rohs was “deeply disappointed” it was no longer feasible.


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Asbestos remnants being removed from Aranui High School remants

Fined for failing to conduct asbestos check

Fined for failing to conduct asbestos check

ELESHA EDMONDS

Last updated 13:26, December 12 2014

An Auckland renovation company manager has been fined $40,000 after he failed to test ceilings at a worksite for asbestos. 

Peter Page, the manager of Apartment Renovation Company, was sentenced today at Auckland District Court on charges laid by WorkSafe of not taking all practical steps to test a substance for asbestos. 

Shane Harris, a handyman employed by the company, raised concern after noticing Page did not test for asbestos before they began work on 10 units at a site in the Auckland suburb of Sandringham. 

Page told Harris he had tested the ceiling and had found there was no asbestos, but when Harris took his own sample it tested positive for the presence of asbestos. 

As a result of Page’s actions, up to 15 contractors were potentially exposed to asbestos over three months. 

Asbestos dust can cause breathing difficulties or even lung cancer if it is inhaled.

Page claimed he thought the textured ceilings were asbestos-free, as they did not have sparkling material visible to the eye.

However Brett Murray, general manager of High Hazards and Specialist Services, said it was a recommended practice to test for asbestos.

“Asbestos is often mixed with other material so it is virtually impossible to identify by eye,” he said. 

“The only way to be certain that materials contain asbestos is to have them tested.” 


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Page was fined $40,000 under the Health and Safety in Employment Act and Health and Safety in Employment Regulations. 


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Fined for failing to conduct asbestos check

Council to give DIY advice on 'safe' home asbestos removal


Council to give asbestos DIY advice


LOIS CAIRNS

Last updated 05:00 04/08/2014

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The Rebuild

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Do-it-yourself homeowners will be targeted by a new campaign aimed at encouraging the safe removal of building materials containing asbestos.

Christchurch City Council inspections and enforcement unit manager Anne Columbus said that in the past authorities had been reluctant to provide information to homeowners on how to safely remove asbestos because they did not want to encourage them to remove it themselves, but this was happening anyway because it was expensive to get professionals to remove it.

The joint agency Waste and Environmental Management Team (Wemt) set up to manage the mountain of waste generated by the quakes had now decided to change tack and were in the process of pulling together information for homeowners on how they could manage their own asbestos removal.

“The message now is if you are going to do it, do it the right way and do the right thing,” Columbus told the council’s environment committee.

She said a new dedicated website would go live where DIY people would be able to get detailed advice on how to remove asbestos safely and how to dispose of it. It was part of a new community education campaign supported by Worksafe New Zealand and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority.

Cr David East said the problem was not just disposing of asbestos in building materials, but also disposing of soil contaminated with asbestos.

On the former Queen Elizabeth II site, for example, there were three or four large piles of asbestos-contaminated soil. Although it technically posed little risk to the community, there was a perception among nearby residents that it could pose a health hazard.

“What is the longer-term strategy for getting rid of contaminated soil? There must be thousands of cubic metres of it?” East said.

Environment Canterbury programme manager Don Chittock acknowledged the disposal of contaminated soil was an issue and said solutions were being sought.

“We have a meeting tomorrow with Transwaste [which operates the Kate Valley landfill] to discuss disposal options . . . we’re working with the industry to provide solutions,” Chittock said.

The environment committee decided to ask for more information on the removal and disposal of asbestos-contaminated soil. It also voted unanimously to ask the council to write to the minister of building innovation and employment in support of a ban on the importation of materials containing asbestos.


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Council to give DIY advice on 'safe' home asbestos removal

Asbestos removal 'overlooked'


Asbestos removal ‘overlooked’


Removal in cash settlements underfunded

CECILE MEIER

Last updated 08:58 12/06/2014

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The Earthquake Commission (EQC) might have underfunded potential asbestos removal in thousands of residential cash settlements, an earthquake contractor says.

Accredited Fletcher EQR contractor Warwick Joy said EQC should have warned homeowners about asbestos risks when issuing a payout for houses built between 1940 and 1990.

However, an EQC spokesman said this week that mandatory testing for homes built between 1940s and 1990s only applied to homes in the Canterbury Home Repair Programme (CHRP), not to cash settlements.

Joy said homeowners with cash settlements might decide to repair their property, potentially exposing themselves to asbestos.

He said he checked 2011 EQC assessment reports for friends and family who had been cash-settled. In both reports, work on high-risk materials was paid for, but no mention was made of the asbestos risk.

He estimated it would cost around $5000 to remove asbestos from his uncle’s house, and about $1500 from a friend’s.

Joy said this probable cost was not provided for in the cash settlement.

However, an EQC spokesman said the $100 cost of an asbestos test had been provided for in the cash settlement, even though there was no specific mention of it.

It was up to the builder hired to do the repairs to decide whether or not a test was needed.

“A margin is built in for a contractor to do preparatory work, including any asbestos testing if this is required,” he said.

If the test returned a positive asbestos result, the homeowner could provide a copy of the test certificate to EQC so their cash settlement figure could be reviewed if necessary.

Joy was concerned none of this information was provided to homeowners before a payout.

EQC said all this information could be found on its website.

EQC figures show more than 3000 homeowners have opted out of the CHRP this year alone, following changes in February to EQC’s opt-out scheme allowing claims where damage was assessed at over $15,000 to be cash-settled.

Joy said homeowners who had received a payout not covering asbestos testing and treatment should pay back EQC and opt into the Fletcher EQR programme to make sure asbestos would be safely taken care of.


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Asbestos removal 'overlooked'

Asbestos removal worried family


Asbestos removal worried family


NICOLE MATHEWSON

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

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

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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Asbestos checks urged

Family demand asbestos-test result


Family demand asbestos-test result


NICOLE MATHEWSON

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