NSW government urged to follow ACT example on asbestos

Date: Nov 24, 2014

Asbestos experts have urged the NSW government to identify Mr Fluffy properties in the state and demolish them.

Delegates at the inaugural International Conference on Asbestos Awareness and Management called on officials to follow the example set by the ACT government in destroying affected homes.

The event, held in Melbourne between November 16 and 18, brought together renowned international specialists to discuss ways Australia can enhance its manufacturing and management of asbestos-containing materials.

Asbestos causes a range of health problems, including severe lung conditions such as asbestosis and mesothelioma. However, the material was used in insulation across homes in both NSW and the ACT during the 1960s and 1970s.

The ACT government has been awarded a $1 billion federal government funding package to help destroy the affected properties. A similar deal has not yet been confirmed for NSW and officials in the state have been criticised for acting slowly on the issue.

NSW ‘must take action’

According to The Canberra Times, conference attendees were in favour of a national response to asbestos problems in Australia. They also described the ACT approach of demolishing homes fitted by Mr Fluffy as the “only enduring solution” to the risks posed by the deadly material.

Federal Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency head Peter Tighe said this is a clear message for NSW officials to find and destroy all properties associated with the insulation provider.
“I believe they don’t have any other option,” he stated.

In fact, Mr Tighe claimed the issue may be even more pressing in NSW because the state never conducted remediation procedures. As such, the affected houses contain full quantities of asbestos.

British asbestos campaigner Laurie Kazan-Allen said: “The Mr Fluffy issue is unique and horrifying. I cannot get my head around how any government could leave residents living in these homes, and clearly the people of NSW need a co-ordinated solution.”

Conference highlights asbestosis risks

Following the conference, a communique was released outlining the health risks of asbestos and the measures required to ensure potential problems are minimised.

“It is the consensus of all delegates that all forms of asbestos fibres kill and the only solution is to eliminate the sources. There is no known safe level of exposure to asbestos,” the communique said.

“This conference finds no scientific evidence to support the concept of controlled use advocated by some in the asbestos producing industry.”

Controlled use is a method advocated by international asbestos exporters to justify continued sales of the material to developing countries, including India.

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