Asbestos scare

WORK remains suspended on a Fremantle demolition site less than 50 metres from a primary school following confirmation of asbestos contamination.

Lance Holt primary school was temporarily closed earlier this week after parent and local businessman Shane Braddock found asbestos at the old Fremantle Workers Club site while in town for the street arts festival.

Parents were left worried their children had been exposed to the toxic fibres during demolition works a week earlier, with dust from the site blanketing cars and buildings along Henry Street, but tests from nine samples came up clean.

Australian Development Capital is managing the build and hired contractor Sanders Contracting to do the majority of the demolition.

ADC executive director Adam Zorzi told the Herald they’d voluntarily stopped works and would liaise with Fremantle council on a plan to have the rest of the site picked over with the supervision of an independent licensed asbestos removal expert.

Mr Zorzi said all demolition so far had been by licensed subcontractors who’d followed all health and safety requirements and the demolition permit issued by the council.

“Multiple inspections by the city’s officers and Worksafe have confirmed and continue to confirm this,” Mr Zorzi said.

“Licensed asbestos professionals attended the site in January 2018 and removed some non-friable asbestos vinyl floor tiles.

“This work was done in accordance with Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos (SWA, 2011). These tiles were removed and disposed of, and a clearance certificate was issued by the contractor.”

• Shane Braddock wants to know why council staff and Worksafe missed asbestos at a demolition site, when he found it almost immediately. Photo by Shane Braddock

He says Worksafe also visited the site last week and raised no issues about asbestos or dust, but extra water was brought in anyway because of brick dust created as the walls came down.

But Mr Braddock wants to know how the council and Worksafe managed to inspect the site so many times without noticing any asbestos; it had only taken him a few minutes poking around to pick up a piece.

He owns his own construction company and says he started getting concerned about how the project was being managed.

”We noticed there was more and more dust being thrown into the street last week because they weren’t suppressing the dust with water, so it got us concerned about general particle matter in the air and then we got the council down—but they gave them the tick and let them keep working,” he says.

While in Freo for the festival he heard three skaters in the site and went to investigate, and he says there appeared to be little more than a broken glass door stopping people entering the site.

“For council to come on site and then walk away: I don’t think they did their job correctly,” he fumed. “They should have shut down the site simply because the contractor didn’t have site control and proper dust suppression.”

by MICAHEL ROBERTS

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