Asbestos scare deepens as work continues at Rosia Tanks site

February 18, 2006 at 10:55 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Asbestos scare deepens as work continues at Rosia Tanks site

PRESS RELEASE 18th FEBRUARY 2006

Earlier to-day in a flagrant disregard of all health and safety guidelines in respect to the safe containment and removal of asbestos, three Haymills employees were spotted working on the Rosia Tanks site.  Given the method that was employed in the removal of the asbestos, it is unlikely that the contractor and its operatives are qualified to remove this hazardous material.  No warning signs to inform the public that asbestos was being removed were put up prior to the work commencing.

During the course of the morning and up until when they left, two of these operatives were wearing protective suits and wore masks, the third operative wore no protective gear at all, as they worked within a hastily constructed shed covered in black plastic sheeting.  The covering of the shed was flapping in the strong Westerly winds and did not seem to be providing adequate containment or protection for residents in the area or members of the public driving past.  They were seen removing rubble in buckets from within the area covered by the shed, coming out of the covered area and then emptying the contents of the buckets into large white plastic sacks.  Residents of Rosia Dale, Rosia Plaza, Rosia Cottages and others expressed serious concerns.  The dust from these buckets was seen blowing into the atmosphere, indisciminately, and could easily have entered people’s homes through open windows or doors.  After they finished their shift, all the sacks, containing asbestos contaminated rubble, were left on site.  These sacks are not marked in any way identifying them as containing asbestos, a highly hazardous material that can cause serious damage to people’s health.

Gigi Sene, Chairperson of the South District Association, came out of her house when she became aware at around 10.30 am in the morning, that work was being carried out and approached the site.  She spoke to one of the Haymills operatives on the site, who informed her that they were removing the roof tiles that form part of the covering of the Rosia Water Tanks.  She pointed out to them that they were removing tiles and bricks that were painted with paint containing asbestos.  The operative concerned confirmed this.  They were asked to stop working immediately but ignored this request and continued working until approximately 1 pm.

At very short notice a group of people gathered outside the entrance to the Rosia Water Tanks to observe what was going on site and protest.  This group of people informed the Haymill’s employees that they were contravening health and safety regulations.  However they completely ignored the verbal requests made directly to them to stop the work that they were doing.

The SDA contends that no work should be taking place at all within a site that is identified as containing asbestos until the type of asbestos present is identified and is safely removed, in accordance with the pertinent ordinance, so that it does not constitute a health risk to employees or members of the public.

The Association has made several attempts to determine the extent of the asbestos present on the site, the type (blue, brown or white), the method by which the asbestos will be removed and the safety measures that will be taken to protect the public.  It’s pleas for full disclosure continue remain unanswered by the pertinent authorities.

On Friday, the SDA approached Health and Safety Inpectors to ask for information on the asbestos situation on the site but were told by one of them that they had been instructed to respond only to written requests.  The SDA put their request in writing and delivered it by hand just before 1.00 pm that day requesting immediate and full disclosure.  No one has contacted the Association to allay the concerns raised in this and previous letters.

Whilst the Government, was today making reference to its democratic credentials, in the press, it continues to ignore completely the concerns of a group of people in respect to the Nelson’s View development proposed at the Rosia Tanks site.  The Chief Minister is quoted as saying: “The Government has taken into account all the objections that are being repeated.”  Perhaps he could explain to the SDA how these objections have been taken into account, as virtually every single letter that has been sent to the Govenment by the SDA remains unanswered and it continues to be completely ignored.  At the very least the Government has a duty to explain to the SDA how it has reached what the Chief Minister describes as a “balanced decision”.  This is the very essence of open and accountable government.

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