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Patea residents at risk from deadly asbestos

Media Release

Friday, 08 February 2008

Patea residents at risk from deadly asbestos after fire

Residents of the south Taranaki township of Patea are still at risk of exposure to deadly asbestos fibres after a fire tore through a derelict freezing works, according to the Australian building union.

The Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union is concerned that the fire is likely to have spread deadly asbestos fibres for several kilometres over homes in the surrounding area.

CFMEU NSW safety coordinator Steve Keenan said the union, along with the Australian Asbestos Contractors Association, were today sending two hygienists to the town to install air monitoring equipment to measuring asbestos levels.

“This freezing works was literally riddled with deadly asbestos,” he said. “Our concern is that the severity of this fire has resulted in these fibres being blown over a large surrounding area, putting the long term health of community members at risk.

“The union is worried officials in New Zealand have allowed the return of residents too soon, and that there has not been adequate testing to identify the risks or to develop a safe cleanup plan.

“Asbestos risks must be taken very seriously as even minute exposure can potentially result in deadly diseases such as mesothelioma and asbestosis.

“The remaining asbestos on site must also be suppressed with water until a full cleanup can occur, otherwise strong winds will have the potential to stir up dust and ash, and blow more asbestos over the surrounding area.”


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