Dis­may at ‘watch and

As­bestos in our schools: SPE­CIAL RE­PORT

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Josh Zim­mer­man

PO­TEN­TIALLY deadly as­bestos has been left in 10 WA schools for up to a year af­ter it was found.

Four of the schools – Mt Pleas­ant, East Fre­man­tle and Millen Pri­mary School in East Vic­to­ria Park and Point Peron Camp School – still con­tain the ma­te­rial.

Vis­ual inspections car­ried out in May and June 2015 iden­ti­fied as­bestoscon­tain­ing ma­te­rial with a risk rank­ing of one or two at nine of the schools.

A ca­ble pit and elec­tri­cal board at Point Peron Camp School was as­sessed as risk rank­ing one in Novem­ber.

The con­trol mea­sure for risk rank­ing one or two ma­te­rial in the Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment’s As­bestos Man­age­ment Plan reads: “Re­move source of dis­tur­bance or oth­er­wise take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to negate any po­ten­tial health risk”.

Op­po­si­tion ed­u­ca­tion spokes­woman Sue Ellery said the State Govern­ment had failed in its duty of care.

“If I was the par­ent of a child at one of these schools I would be de­mand­ing to know how the pri­or­i­ties of the Govern­ment have be­come so skewed that it thinks it is ac­cept­able to leave chil­dren ex­posed to high-risk as­bestos for such a long pe­riod of time,” she said.

“I ac­cept that the work is best done dur­ing school hol­i­days but that does not ex­plain why the re­me­dial work was not car­ried out in the first school hol­i­days fol­low­ing the rein­spec­tions.

“The Govern­ment needs to ex­plain its rea­son­ing to par­ents and iden­tify to what ex­tent chil­dren have been ex­posed to risk.”

Ed­u­ca­tion Depart­ment in­fra­struc­ture ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor John Fis­cher said that fol­low­ing the ini­tial vis­ual in­spec­tion, the na­ture and lo­ca­tion of the ma­te­rial had been fur­ther as­sessed to en­sure it did not pose any im­me­di­ate dan­ger to stu­dents and staff.

He said ar­eas of high con­cern were dealt with swiftly.

“It is im­por­tant to note that as­bestos in its cur­rent undis­turbed form is not a risk to stu­dents and staff,” he said.

“The as­bestos present in most pre1980 build­ings would not pose a health risk un­less fi­bres are dis­rupted, which is why works are usu­ally sched­uled dur­ing school hol­i­days.”

He said the Depart­ment of Fi­nance’s Build­ing Man­age­ment Works had ad­vised that most of the as­bestos was out of reach – in the roof eaves, elec­tri­cal ca­ble pit, in the ceil­ing and in­side floor tiles – and the chance of it be­ing dis­turbed was min­i­mal.

“Tim­ing for re­mov­ing as­bestos ma­te­ri­als in schools is as­sessed on a caseby-case ba­sis and the safest ap­proach for re­mov­ing ma­te­ri­als is al­ways fol­lowed,” Mr Fis­cher said.

“Re­me­dial work has been com­pleted at eight of the schools, fur­ther test­ing is be­ing un­der­taken at one school and

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