Lessons still being learnt from Mr Fluffy asbestos case

Date: May 08, 2015

Authorities are still learning their lessons as a direct result of the Mr Fluffy asbestos scandal, which affected homes in some parts of eastern New South Wales.

From 1968 to 1979, the private contractor was found to have used friable loose asbestos fibres in roof cavities, leading to an increased risk of asbestosis. As a result, the NSW government has put together a package that will help residents affected by the insulation, which offers both financial and practical assistance.

Not only this, the Loose-Fill Asbestos Insulation Taskforce has been tasked with finding ways of remediating the properties and ensuring they no longer pose a public health threat. In some instances, demolition will be the only option.

The Australian Capital Territory was also affected by My Fluffy's use of asbestos and plans to buy back around 1,000 affected homes to ensure public safety.

Regulations have been passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly to ensure the safe removal and use of asbestos throughout the territory. While efforts are being made in NSW, legislation has so far not been amended as a direct result of this incident.

If any asbestos removal involves critical construction work in the ACT, the new legislation will mean a licensed removalist can carry out the work. However, they must either be a licensed builder or be under the supervision of one.

Nationals MP for Monaro John Barilaro told the Sydney Morning Herald on April 26 that the only feasible option for affected properties was for them to be bought back by local governments.

"You cannot leave these homes standing. They are old homes and they are deteriorating over time," Mr Barilaro said.

"There's no question that of the majority of stakeholders I have met with, and residents, a lot are comfortable with buy-back. They want to end this ugly period in their lives."

The Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities are still identifying homes that were affected by Mr Fluffy's work. Technical assessments are being carried out by taking samples of dust, as well as physically assessing the structures.

As of May 5, the number of homes in NSW confirmed to contain loose-fill asbestos stood at 64. Free insulation testing is being provided across 26 local government areas, as the government further seeks to determine just how many properties are affected.

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