Asbestos World Watch for January 14th, 2008

In CHRISTCHURCH, NZ, contractors converting the New Zealand Post’s headquarters into the new city council offices released a cloud of dust into the air, which prompted the evacuation of the building. Those inside the building feared that the dust contained asbestos fibers, which could cause cancer if they are inhaled. Results from the air quality tests were being awaited as of December 12, 2008. In ONEHUNGA, NZ, asbestos was discovered in a building gutted by fire at Mitre 10. Now the firefighters must take extreme caution around the remains of the building to control and remove the asbestos to ensure that asbestos will not become airborne and pose a hazard to those living and working nearby. Firefighters work to keep the roof wet as they seek out the cause of the blaze. Mitre 10 feels that it cannot be blamed for the fire. In QUEENSTOWN LAKE DISTRICT, NZ, concerns about asbestos mixed into the concrete laid for a road remained one week after the road was paved in early December 2008.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Duncan Field has requested a report of the materials in the road from the supplier, but he claims that there does not seem to be any asbestos present. Angered residents disagreed when one brought a bag full of metal debris such as nails and microchips to a meeting of the utilities committee. Ian Marshall, the roading manager, agreed to repave the road without cost to the residents of the Queenstown Lakes District, but he never offered a definitive answer to the question of asbestos in the road materials. Asbestos was used in many aspects of construction during the first three quarters of the 20th century. The buildings from that era are now being torn down and replaced. In order to save landfill space and money, the roading company decided to recycle the material from buildings that had been demolished, but no indication was given as to whether they tested the material for asbestos contamination. Exposure to asbestos has been linked to dozens of different life-threatening diseases, including many forms of cancer. The roading company has agreed to pay for the $5000 clean-up itself without charge to the Queenstown Lakes District.