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July 17, 2018

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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– The Press


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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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– The Press


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Asbestos remnants being removed from Aranui High School remants

EQC slated after asbestos inquiry

EQC slated after asbestos inquiry

CECILE MEIER

Last updated 05:00, December 9 2014

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) failed to manage asbestos risks in earthquake home repairs, a report says.

WorkSafe New Zealand released its findings from an investigation into EQC’s Canterbury home repair programme since 2011. The investigation found deficiencies but not enough to lay charges because the risks to homeowners and contractors had been “very low”.

Canterbury medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey has questioned the findings because 10 homes only had been tested as part of the investigation.

“To hold such firm conclusions after testing on such a small sample seems to be drawing an extremely long bow knowing at least 9000 homes are likely to contain asbestos,” he said.

EQC chief executive Ian Simpson defended his organisation, saying EQC prioritised the “most pressing needs” of Cantabrians after the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

The investigation was inconclusive about how many houses were tested but found testing had been insufficient, especially in the programme’s first year.

The report also said EQC had not sought clarification of the potential risks before deciding this year not to retrospectively test repaired homes. No clear reason for this decision was provided.

However, experts said overall the risks associated with the type of repair work being carried out were “unlikely to cause any asbestos-related deaths”.

Simpson said the research found even in a worst-case scenario, the risks did not reach a level where a single worker could be expected to develop mesothelioma or lung cancer.

“Our priority was to get people into safe and warm homes as soon as possible.


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“We focused first on removing potentially lethal hazards such as unstable chimneys, providing or repairing heating before the onset of winter, and ensuring homes were weather tight.”

Contractors had been required to manage health and safety risks on site – including asbestos – from the start of the programme, he said.

The independent research cited in the WorkSafe report was commissioned by Fletcher EQR and conducted by Australian health risk consultants Greencap NAA.


– The Press

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EQC slated after asbestos inquiry

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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– The Press


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Asbestos removal 'overlooked'

'Sexy' asbestos email sent by Cera manager


‘Sexy’ asbestos email sent by Cera manager


NICOLE MATHEWSON

Last updated 05:00 06/06/2014

VIOLET KRUMBEIN/YouTube

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority staff member sent contractors a link to this “very inappropriate” YouTube video

Tim Pow

Stacy Squires/Fairfax NZ

‘POOR TASTE’: The link to the “inappropriate” video was sent by Cera residential red zone operations manager Tim Pow.

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A Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) staff member sent contractors a link to a ”very inappropriate” YouTube video, depicting a fictional woman who wants to meet asbestos workers for sex before they die of cancer.

The video clip, titled Asbestos Girl, features a woman talking to an asbestos worker in a bar about how people in his profession are brave ”because you know you’re going to die of mesothelioma”.

Mesothelioma is a rare fatal cancer of the lining of the lungs or abdominal cavity and can be caused by asbestos, a known carcinogen.

The link to the video was sent to about 40 Cera contractors by Cera residential red zone operations manager Tim Pow on Friday.

Pow’s email included the message: ”Now who said Asbestos was not the game to be in.”

The woman in the clip says: ”I’m just asking you to come back to my house, sniff some sealant and remove my asbestos – you know, have sex – before you die of mesothelioma.”

A Christchurch contractor, who did not want to be named, said the video was ”in very poor taste” and the email had caused outrage among its recipients.

New Zealand Demolition and Asbestos Association executive member Helina Stil said the email was ”pretty strange”.

”They think it’s all funny and stuff like that, but actually it’s not. It’s detrimental to what we’re trying to achieve as women, but it’s also detrimental to the industry as a whole.” She told Cera on Monday that the email was ”disappointing”.

”Tim is a really really nice guy but in this instance, the email was inappropriate.”

Stil was concerned that the email also appeared to make light of the fact asbestos was a highly dangerous substance, particularly following criticism last week about how it had been handled during Canterbury’s earthquake rebuild.

”I think it’s actually very, very poor timing and very, very poor taste.”

Cera chief executive Roger Sutton said the email intended to give people a laugh ”but in reality it was just dumb”.

”The content has caused offence to some, and to anyone that has been offended, I apologise on behalf of Cera.”

Cera was a strong supporter of women working in the rebuild, and about half of its senior leaders were women, along with 64 per cent of its fixed-term and seconded staff, he said.

Cera also treated asbestos management ”very seriously” and had strict requirements in place for contractors dealing with the substance at Crown-owned properties.

Sutton said Cera would be reminding staff of its policies and expectations for the use of work email.


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– The Press

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'Sexy' asbestos email sent by Cera manager

Asbestos complaints rocketing


Asbestos complaints rocketing


TESS MCCLURE

Last updated 09:00 26/05/2014

Asbestos

Supplied

SAFETY FIRST: An asbestos removal company employee at work in the city. Earthquake demolition work has increased complaints of exposure.

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Workers complaining of asbestos exposure in Canterbury have increased by 350 per cent following the Christchurch earthquakes.

But with asbestos not covered by health and safety notification laws, companies are not obligated to report it, and the scope of the problem may be much larger.

In the last two years, government workplace health and safety regulator Worksafe has shut down the sites of Christchurch companies with 33 prohibition notices for unsafe asbestos removal.

Worksafe Canterbury rebuild health and safety director Kathryn Heiler said that, despite increasing training and awareness, companies were still demolishing buildings without checking for asbestos.

“Our inspectors are seeing too many properties throughout the region being demolished before asbestos has been properly identified and appropriate controls have been put in place,” she said. “This is simply not acceptable.”

Complaints to Worksafe of asbestos exposure jumped from 16 in 2010 to more than 70 last year, a 350 per cent increase.

And notifications of being exposed unsafely to asbestos recorded on the voluntary National Asbestos Register have tripled from pre-quake levels to 61.

Data collected by Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment shows a huge amount of asbestos work being done in Christchurch. They record 560 notifications of asbestos work from July 2012 to May 2013 – compared to 48 in Auckland and 40 in Wellington.

Asbestos was a common building material in Kiwi homes until its carcinogenic properties were discovered in the 1980s.

Enclosed and undisturbed, it is benign, but as post-quake deconstruction ramps up some demolition companies are not testing for the substance properly.

A demolition worker speaking to The Press anonymously said when he first began in demolition in 2013, the company did not test for asbestos, wear safety gear or have safety procedures for dealing with the substance.

“We had nothing. It wasn’t talked about at all. Asbestos was like this sort of myth. We weren’t testing the buildings we demolished.”

He estimates around half the houses they demolished in that time period could have been asbestos contaminated.

“Only now, looking back, in hindsight . . . pretty much everything we touched could have had asbestos in it.”

At the end of 2013 company training began, and safety procedures were put in place, and the team realised how much exposure they may have already had.


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“It was a big shock. Most people felt pretty depressed. Even our foreman was like ‘Oh, my God,’ because he’d been doing demolition for two years, pulling down buildings and breathing this stuff in.”

He had not laid a complaint or registered on the exposure registry, and believed many others would not bother.

A Worksafe spokesperson said employers were not obligated to report if employees were exposed to asbestos.

Asbestos exposure was not included in the legislation criteria and could not be recorded as a serious harm notification.

Worksafe had issued 33 prohibition notices to 25 companies since 2012 for asbestos, including Wheelers Construction.

Wheelers office manager Suzy Bragg said initially there were no clear guidelines for asbestos removal in residential homes.

“When we first started [after the earthquakes], no-one really knew what the asbestos requirements were.

“It wasn’t till the end of 2012 that anyone even started thinking about asbestos.”

Bragg said Wheelers followed all legal requirements as they learned of them. She said the company had responded to each of their two Worksafe prohibition notices and fixed the problem within 24 hours.

University of Canterbury Toxicology Professor Ian Shaw said health effects from asbestos would only emerge years after exposure.

He said high exposure over several years was needed for serious effects to be likely, but there was no “minimum exposure” to cause cancer.

“In theory you only need one asbestos fibre, and for that fibre get into the right place into the lungs.”

– The Press


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Asbestos complaints rocketing

Specialists to clear Tuam St asbestos


Specialists to clear Tuam St asbestos


GEORGINA STYLIANOU

Last updated 05:00 21/11/2013

tuam st

DEAN KOZANIC

The demolition of the old Christchurch City Council offices in Tuam Street has begun.

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Asbestos will be removed from the former Christchurch civic building in Tuam St while a neighbouring site continues to be dampened down after contamination hot spots were identified.

The multi-storey building was occupied by the Christchurch City Council from 1980 until 2010 and was recently sold to the Central Christchurch Development Unit as the land is earmarked for the new inner-city bus interchange.

Earlier this month, preliminary testing of an adjoining vacant site identified isolated traces of asbestos in the soil between Lichfield St and Struthers Lane.

Ceres New Zealand was awarded the demolition contract for the Tuam St building and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) is managing the project. A Cera spokeswoman yesterday confirmed the building contained the potentially lethal substance as well as lead-based paint.

“That will have to be disposed of properly too,” she said.

Both hazards were “normal things” expected of many buildings constructed before the mid-1980s.

Specialists would be handling the removal of all hazardous substances, she said.

Meanwhile, an asbestos investigation had been conducted on the vacant land and the report was due back this week.

Staff would then be able to decide how to remediate the land, she said, but in the meantime sprinklers continued to keep the site damp to minimise dust.


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– © Fairfax NZ News


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Specialists to clear Tuam St asbestos

Specialists to handle asbestos issue


Specialists to clear Tuam St asbestos


GEORGINA STYLIANOU

Last updated 05:00 21/11/2013

tuam st

DEAN KOZANIC

The demolition of the old Christchurch City Council offices in Tuam Street has begun.

Relevant offers

Asbestos will be removed from the former Christchurch civic building in Tuam St while a neighbouring site continues to be dampened down after contamination hot spots were identified.

The multi-storey building was occupied by the Christchurch City Council from 1980 until 2010 and was recently sold to the Central Christchurch Development Unit as the land is earmarked for the new inner-city bus interchange.

Earlier this month, preliminary testing of an adjoining vacant site identified isolated traces of asbestos in the soil between Lichfield St and Struthers Lane.

Ceres New Zealand was awarded the demolition contract for the Tuam St building and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) is managing the project. A Cera spokeswoman yesterday confirmed the building contained the potentially lethal substance as well as lead-based paint.

“That will have to be disposed of properly too,” she said.

Both hazards were “normal things” expected of many buildings constructed before the mid-1980s.

Specialists would be handling the removal of all hazardous substances, she said.

Meanwhile, an asbestos investigation had been conducted on the vacant land and the report was due back this week.

Staff would then be able to decide how to remediate the land, she said, but in the meantime sprinklers continued to keep the site damp to minimise dust.


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– © Fairfax NZ News


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Specialists to handle asbestos issue

Asbestos policy review could save lives


Asbestos policy review could save lives


GEORGINA STYLIANOU

Last updated 05:00 20/11/2013

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An EQC policy of covering up asbestos in hundreds of quake-damaged Canterbury homes could be overhauled by the Government amid concerns about serious health risks.

Government officials have previously raised concerns about the way asbestos is being handled in post-earthquake Canterbury, but say the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Bill next month will make guidelines more clear for construction workers.

Staff from WorkSafe – the new health and safety regulator – were in Christchurch yesterday and told The Press it would be naive to think there would not be asbestos-related illnesses in the future.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has previously said up to 43,000 Christchurch homes due for quake repairs could contain the potentially fatal substance.

It estimated that in 10 per cent of cases, asbestos found in ceilings or walls was encased behind plasterboard, instead of being removed.

A Fletcher spokesman said about 15 to 16 per cent of houses that tested positive for asbestos were being encased.

The chairman of the WorkSafe establishment board, Gregor Coster, believed the encasement policy should be “reconsidered carefully” because it posed serious health risks in the future.

“An electrician might be rewiring a house and is put at risk and this is not what we should be doing in terms of managing health and safety,” he said.

An EQC spokesman yesterday said if there were any changes to regulations it would comply.

Coster said contractors across the region needed to be better at testing for asbestos.

“The truth of the matter is I am concerned about the potential exposure . . . particularly during that early demolition phase,” he said.

Geoffrey Podger, the acting chief executive of the WorkSafe establishment unit, said only a certain percentage of asbestos breaches in the city were identified.

“Our inspectors can’t be everywhere, but equally if everyone could carry out their legislative duties, they wouldn’t need to be,” he said.

MBIE health and safety inspector Steve Moran said the influence of big project management firms – including Arrow International and Fletcher – was having a “huge effect in lifting the performance of smaller companies”.

Canterbury District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey, who has been fighting for EQC to review its encasement policy since 2011, said it would have been cost-effective and logical to remove asbestos from houses when repairs were being done.

He urged the Government to follow in the footsteps of Australia and make a commitment to remove asbestos.


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However, it was good news the policy could be reviewed.

“The Christchurch community and the New Zealand population will reap the benefits of [WorkSafe and MBIE’s] courage,” Humphrey said.

– © Fairfax NZ News

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Asbestos policy review could save lives

Encasing asbestos a 'serious future health risk'


Encasing asbestos a ‘serious future health risk’


GEORGINA STYLIANOU

Last updated 09:03 20/11/2013

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An EQC policy of covering up asbestos in hundreds of quake-damaged Canterbury homes could be overhauled by the Government amid concerns about serious health risks.

Government officials have previously raised concerns about the way asbestos is being handled in post-earthquake Canterbury, but say the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work Bill next month will make guidelines more clear for construction workers.

Staff from WorkSafe – the new health and safety regulator – were in Christchurch yesterday and told The Press it would be naive to think there would not be asbestos-related illnesses in the future.

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has previously said up to 43,000 Christchurch homes due for quake repairs could contain the potentially fatal substance.

It estimated that in 10 per cent of cases, asbestos found in ceilings or walls was encased behind plasterboard, instead of being removed.

A Fletcher spokesman said about 15 to 16 per cent of houses that tested positive for asbestos were being encased.

The chairman of the WorkSafe establishment board, Gregor Coster, believed the encasement policy should be “reconsidered carefully” because it posed serious health risks in the future.

“An electrician might be rewiring a house and is put at risk and this is not what we should be doing in terms of managing health and safety,” he said.

An EQC spokesman yesterday said if there were any changes to regulations it would comply.

Coster said contractors across the region needed to be better at testing for asbestos.

“The truth of the matter is I am concerned about the potential exposure . . . particularly during that early demolition phase,” he said.

Geoffrey Podger, the acting chief executive of the WorkSafe establishment unit, said only a certain percentage of asbestos breaches in the city were identified.

“Our inspectors can’t be everywhere, but equally if everyone could carry out their legislative duties, they wouldn’t need to be,” he said.

MBIE health and safety inspector Steve Moran said the influence of big project management firms – including Arrow International and Fletcher – was having a “huge effect in lifting the performance of smaller companies”.

Canterbury District Health Board medical officer of health Dr Alistair Humphrey, who has been fighting for EQC to review its encasement policy since 2011, said it would have been cost-effective and logical to remove asbestos from houses when repairs were being done.

He urged the Government to follow in the footsteps of Australia and make a commitment to remove asbestos.


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However, it was good news the policy could be reviewed.

“The Christchurch community and the New Zealand population will reap the benefits of [WorkSafe and MBIE’s] courage,” Humphrey said.

THE FACTS

WorkSafe, the new health and safety regulator, will be up and running on December 16.

The health and safety functions from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) will transfer to WorkSafe.

The Health and Safety at Work Bill will be introduced into the House next month and will replace The Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992. It will be based on Australian law. The new law and key supporting regulations are expected to be in place by the end of 2014 and will start coming into effect in 2015.

EQC has never provided figures on how many homes have had asbestos encased.

In 2011, 143 people in New Zealand were diagnosed with asbestos-related conditions, including mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos.

Five investigations into breaches of asbestos regulations are under way and the Government has laid charges after an investigation into asbestos exposure at Christchurch Hospital earlier this year.

– © Fairfax NZ News


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Encasing asbestos a 'serious future health risk'