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Chch residents deserve assurances over asbestos

28 May 2014

Chch residents deserve assurances over asbestos

The Government must take responsibility for the uncertainty around potential asbestos contamination in Christchurch and reassure residents by testing the potentially affected homes, the Green Party said today.

Thousands of Christchurch residents may have been exposed to asbestos due to lax management of asbestos by Fletchers EQR during the first two and a half years of the Canterbury rebuild. Fletchers EQR, who is in charge of the Canterbury Home Repair Programme on behalf of the Earthquake Commission (EQC), is currently being investigated by WorkSafe about its handling of exposure to asbestos, however the investigation only applies to the occupational exposure and does not take into account the wider public health concern of homeowner exposure.

“It’s unacceptable that tens of thousands of Christchurch residents are now left worrying about potential exposure to asbestos,” Green Party Christchurch spokesperson Eugenie Sage said today.

“While Fletchers is now applying stricter guidelines to potential asbestos contamination, the issue was not effectively managed in the first two and a half years of the rebuild process.

“Thousands of Christchurch residents whose homes have been repaired are now in the dark as to whether their homes have had some form of asbestos contamination.

“The Government must take responsibility and look after the concerned residents.

“The investigations by WorkSafe are only focusing on the building industry and occupational exposure. No one is looking at homes which have been repaired.

“EQC should have set better standards from the start. It now needs to offer to retrospectively test homes that are potentially affected, to provide reassurance to those residents.

“As a first step, EQC should undertake testing of a wide, representative sample of the homes that were subject to repair before the more stringent guidelines were in place. This would help identify the potential scale of the problem.

“Christchurch has been through enough. EQC should remove the burden of worrying about potential asbestos contamination from the shoulders of these residents.”

ENDS

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