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October 18, 2018

Loose asbestos in house

Greater Hume general manager Steve Pinnuck.

Greater Hume general manager Steve Pinnuck.

THE NSW Privacy Act stands in the way of a loose-fill asbestos taskforce naming the town in Greater Hume Shire where a property tested positive for the deadly insulation.

The finding has prompted Greater Hume Council to encourage people with loose-fill asbestos in their roof to register for the NSW government’s free testing program.

Greater Hume general manager Steve Pinnuck said the council had been advised of the location of the house which tested positive, but could not disclose exactly whether that property was in Jindera, Culcairn, Holbrook or any other shire town.

Neighbours of the affected property have not been notified.

“The homeowner has been made aware and there is assistance available to householders in the way of short-term accommodation, as well as replacement of soft furnishings and clothing,” Mr Pinnuck said.

A NSW loose-fill asbestos insulation taskforce spokesman said the NSW Privacy Act prevented the taskforce from revealing the location.

“The taskforce is not able to confirm the location of a property without the written consent of the owner,” he said.

Early last month a house in the Berrigan Shire Council became the first property in the southern Riverina to test positive, bringing the number of affected properties in NSW to 58.

A testing program was introduced in response to problems identified with those houses where a private contractor from Canberra known as Mr Fluffy had pumped friable loose asbestos fibre into their roof between 1968 and 1980.

Most of the properties affected are in the ACT.

Mr Pinnuck said the council was surprised to be one of the 26 local government areas named as a possible location where loose-fill asbestos was installed.

“There’s been at least one property and there could be more,” he said.

The taskforce spokesman said the property in the Greater Hume Shire participated in an independent investigation into loose-fill asbestos in NSW’s free ceiling insulation testing program.

He said a free independent technical assessment by a licensed asbestos assessor would now be offered to the property owners as part of the taskforce’s “Make Safe” assistance package.

The council will work with the taskforce and provide appropriate support and assistance to the affected owner.

Anyone wanting to arrange a free sample test should phone 13 77 88.

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Loose asbestos in house

Asbestos gave railway worker cancer, inquest hears

Asbestos gave Eastleigh railway worker cancer, inquest hears

Asbestos gave railway worker cancer, inquest hears

Asbestos gave railway worker cancer, inquest hears



First published




Hampshire Chronicle: Photograph of the Author

by

AN Eastleigh man who worked for 40 years at the town’s railway works died of cancer caused by prolonged exposure to asbestos, an inquest heard.

Eric Williams, 73, was employed at the works from 1956 to 1995 and was constantly exposed to the deadly dust which when inhaled can cause mesothelioma decades later.

He joined as apprentice aged 15 and worked his way up to chief foreman.

In a statement made shortly before his death in August, Mr Williams, of Passfield Avenue, said in the 1950s the carriages used to be sprayed with asbestos at night: “The asbestos hanged in the air. It was clearly visible. The asbestos dust and debris we gathered and recycled it as a filler and plugs.

In the 1960s Mr Williams renovated carriages: “A huge amount of dust was created. Asbestos was allowed to fall to the floor. I was showered in the face with asbestos dust. It created dust hanging in the air like mist.

“At no time was I ever warned about the dangers of being exposed to asbestos. No protection was provided, not even a mask.”

Senior Coroner Grahame Short at an inquest in Winchester ruled that the death from mesothelioma was caused by industrial disease.

Mr Short added: “Far too many men working in the carriage works have died as a result of this particular cancer.”

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Asbestos gave railway worker cancer, inquest hears

Asbestos May be Involved in Illegal Islip Dumping

The Town of Islip in Long Island, New York is looking to file lawsuits against contractors who allegedly illegally dumped debris containing asbestos within the Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood. According to Newsday, the contractors may also be criminally charged by the Suffolk County district attorney. To make sure that asset liquidation does not occur, the Town of Islip will also be seeking civil restraining orders against companies involved in the dumping.

“We want to prevent any of these people that are responsible for this criminal conduct from corporate protection by selling off assets of their corporations,” said councilman Anthony Senft. “So that when we come after them and get judgments in the favor of Town of Islip, they [can’t say they] have no assets.”

According to Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota, an estimated 32,000 tons of debris were dumped in the park by at least one “unscrupulous contractor”. Some of this debris contained asbestos concentrations as high as 44 percent. Spota called the dumping an “environmental nightmare” and experts estimate that the cleanup could cost seven figures.

Last year, a church located a mile north of the park asked for donations of clean soil to fix holes in its soccer fields after running out of its own resources. This request prompted contractors to dump illegal fill as early as June. According to Newsday, prosecutors said the debris came from New York City and Long Island.

The park has been closed indefinitely since April 23rd. This closure has stopped a $1.5 million swimming pool rehabilitation project, which was set to open next month. According to Newsday, a full analysis may take until early June.

At a news conference on Tuesday, Spota said his investigators are working to determine if anyone in the government was aware of illegal dumping at the time it occurred. According to Senft, who is the council’s liason to the parks department, the debris was “placed illegally without the permission” without the permission of the town. Spota said that the contractors who worked on the project were hired by the church, and that he believed the church was not to blame.

Asbestos fibers are easily ingested or inhaled when they are airborne. When breathed in, it can lead to a number of serious health problems, such as breathing problems that become harder to treat over time. Being exposed to large amounts of asbestos or being exposed for long periods of time may lead to various types of lung cancer, including mesothelioma.

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Asbestos May be Involved in Illegal Islip Dumping

Asbestos exposure forces closure of RPAC

| Posted: Friday, Mar 07, 2014 02:13 pm

Okotoks Rotary Performing Arts Centre is closed until further notice due to asbestos exposure, forcing the cancellation of events at the facility.

The facility had to be closed when part of the ceiling fell into the theatre area as a result of work being done by contractors on March 6, exposing asbestos in the building.

The Yuk Yuks on Tour event scheduled for March 8 is cancelled and refunds will be issued to ticketholders. Other user groups and bookings affected by the closure will be notified by the Town.

An asbestos removal company will begin remediation work Saturday morning and will take a few days.

Prior to the 2010 renovations to the RPAC, an asbestos analysis report indicated asbestos was located in the original ceiling and wall plaster, and proper procedures were followed. Final inspections deemed it safe for public use.

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Asbestos exposure forces closure of RPAC

Baucus took 'vow' to help Libby residents harmed by asbestos

For residents of Libby ravaged by asbestos-related diseases, U.S. Sen. Max Baucus has delivered on health care – including special government coverage like nowhere else in America.

“Just about every step of the way, Max has been there,” says Gayla Benefield, a Libby resident and activist who helped expose the asbestos pollution in Libby. “All we’ve had to do is ask, and he’s been right on it.”

Libby’s infamous asbestos problem stems from a now-defunct vermiculite mine last operated by W.R. Grace and Co. on the edge of town. Generations of workers at the mine breathed asbestos fibers from the vermiculite and brought the deadly fibers home on their clothes, infecting their families with lung disease as well.

Grace also left piles of low-grade vermiculite near the mine, for anyone to take. It was used in gardens, baseball fields, track fields and for home insulation throughout Libby, exposing hundreds more to its asbestos fibers.

More than 3,000 people from Libby have been diagnosed with asbestos-related lung disease, some 400 have died and the numbers continue to grow.

Libby residents diagnosed with the disease, however, have a unique benefit, thanks to Baucus: They are covered by Medicare, regardless of their age.

Medicare, usually reserved for Americans 65 or older, provides free hospital care, insurance for non-hospital care for about $105 a month and prescription drug coverage.

Tanis Hernandez, administrative director of the Center for Asbestos Related Disease in Libby, says ever-younger residents are coming to the clinic to get screened for asbestos lung diseases. If they screen positive, they get Medicare coverage.

Baucus, D-Mont., chief architect of the 2010 Affordable Care Act – “Obamacare” – wrote the Medicare provision into the bill, for citizens affected by contamination at Superfund sites declared a “public health emergency.” Libby is the only such site in the country.

Last week, Baucus also announced expansion to several counties near Libby of a pilot program covering some additional services not usually covered by Medicare, like home health assistance.

This special Medicare coverage isn’t the only help Baucus has helped arrange for Libby’s asbestos victims.

He helped get seed money and grants for the clinic, which provides free screening for Libby residents, secured funding to help pay for its expansion, pushed for the 2009 public health emergency declaration, and supported a $10 million grant in 2011 to cover future screening costs.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today without his support,” Hernandez says. “He’s always been there to hear the latest concerns and struggles, and to try to find a solution.”

Baucus visited Libby last summer, and brought along the head of the U.S. Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services with him. He said Libby had been a top priority for him, since meeting victims and activists 14 years earlier.

“I made a vow to myself,” he said, “(that) I would do whatever it took to help the people of Libby.”

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Baucus took 'vow' to help Libby residents harmed by asbestos

Asbestos at Montague High demolition prompts precautions

Asbestos in the old Montague High School building has prompted special precautions to be taken as demolition work begins.

The province has confirmed asbestos in floor tiles, wall plaster and pipe insulation in sections of the school built in the 1960s.

Actual removal of the asbestos will begin in a week or 10 days. But first the contractor must get approval of its work plan from the province, detailing exactly how it intends to get the job done.

The province has hired an environmental company to ensure the contractor adheres to all safety guidelines.

Workers have already sealed off some areas inside the school that contain asbestos.

Once the Worker’s Compensation Board and the province give approval, crews will remove materials containing asbestos, bag it, and truck it away to certified disposal sites.

Tyler Richardson, manager of building design and construction for the province, said officials will also be closely monitoring the situation.

“There are very stringent protocols for removing asbestos. Of course asbestos is not dangerous unless you disturb it. So we know of the protocols. We have to set up containment areas where the asbestos is located. We actually create zones where we make areas and put them under negative pressure with filtering systems and everybody has to have proper attire on, respirators etcetera,” he said.

“We are very much aware that protocols have to be followed, given the fact that we have residents and the school operating close by.”

The demolition site is located next to the intermediate school.

Despite close monitoring, some residents feel uneasy about the work being done in the centre of town.

“I think it’s dangerous for the junior high right beside it, for the kids who come outside at lunchtime or at break time,” said April MacDonald.

The province says the only disruption to the nearby school or residents may be some excessive noise.

But that’s common in any demolition project, not just those involving asbestos.

Inspectors can order the work stopped if they find problems.

The contract to do the demolition work was awarded to the lowest bidder, A & L Concrete Forming Limited of Halifax.

Richardson hopes the $340,000 demolition project will be complete by Dec. 20.

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Asbestos at Montague High demolition prompts precautions

EPA blamed for delays in asbestos study in Montana

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Internal investigators faulted the Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday for years of delays in completing health studies needed to guide the cleanup of a Montana mining town where hundreds of people have died from asbestos exposure.

The EPA‘s Office of Inspector General said in a report that the studies are necessary to determine whether expensive, ongoing cleanup efforts are working in the town of Libby.

The area near the northwest corner of the state, about 50 miles from the U.S.-Canada border, was declared a public health emergency in 2009, a decade after federal regulators first responded to concerns over asbestos dust that came from a W.R. Grace and Co. vermiculite mine.

The vermiculite was used as insulation in millions of homes across the U.S.

At least $447 million has been spent on the cleanup and the town remains under the first-of-its-kind emergency declaration issued by then-EPA administrator Lisa Jackson. The deaths among residents are expected to continue for decades due to the long latency of asbestos-related diseases.

The inspector General first raised concerns about the government’s failure to figure out the danger posed by Libby asbestos more than six years ago, at the prodding of U.S. Sen. Max Baucus and former Sen. Conrad Burns. After earlier denying proposals to carry out a formal risk assessment, the agency in 2007 said it would be done by 2010.

It’s still at work on the document, with completion now slated for late 2014.

“That should have been the first thing they did,” Libby Mayor Doug Roll said Thursday. “When something hurting people and in this case killing them you need to find out what’s toxic.”

In Thursday’s report, investigators attributed the delays to competing priorities within the agency, contracting problems and unanticipated work that came up as the process unfolded.

For his part, EPA Acting Regional Administrator Howard Cantor said the agency strongly disagrees with many of the Inspector General’s conclusions.

Cantor said the risk and toxicity studies are complex endeavors that need to be done properly to make sure Libby’s residents are protected.

He added that the cleanup already has addressed 1,700 homes and commercial properties and resulted in the removal of 1.2 million tons of contaminated soil.

“The rigor with which we’re undertaking efforts to protect public health and the environment have not been affected by these delays,” he said.

But the investigators said poor communication with Libby residents, members of Congress and the Inspector General’s Office compounded the problem. They added that the agency’s lack of transparency could undermine confidence in its work in Libby.

A draft toxicology study that is key to completing the risk assessment for Libby says even an extremely small amount of asbestos fibers from the now-shuttered W.R. Grace mine can cause health problems.

Representatives of W.R. Grace and others in the chemical industry have pushed for revisions, saying the toxicity level set by the EPA is impractical because it exceeds background levels of asbestos found in some parts of the country.

Montana U.S. Sen. Max Baucus said in a statement responding to Thursday’s report that the EPA needs to avoid its past mistakes and get its studies done quickly.

“We need to move forward with this toxicological assessment, so we are making the right decisions based on the right science,” Baucus said.

Meanwhile, the cleanup grinds on. At least 80 and up to 100 properties in town are queued up for work this year, according to the EPA.

Several hundred properties still need to be addressed, and that list could grow significantly if the agency’s studies determine certain properties need to be revisited.

Work on the mine site outside town has barely begun. It closed in 1990 and remains the responsibility of W.R. Grace. A company spokesman did not immediately reply to an Associated Press request for comment.

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EPA blamed for delays in asbestos study in Montana