ALARM OVER NEW WORK

AS­BESTOS RE­MOVAL CAUSES CON­CERN

Shepparton News - - FRONT PAGE - By Myles Peter­son

A lack of in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the re­moval of as­bestos at one Shep­par­ton pri­mary school is caus­ing anx­i­ety in the com­mu­nity.

The News fielded sev­eral in­quiries from con­cerned peo­ple this week fol­low­ing an as­bestos re­moval op­er­a­tion at Bourchier Street Pri­mary School.

As­bestos, once used ex­ten­sively in con­struc­tion, has been banned since 2003 ow­ing to the dan­gers it presents to peo­ple’s health, es­pe­cially when in­haled.

Con­cerned mem­bers of the pub­lic have ap­proached The News re­gard­ing as­bestos re­moval at Bourchier Street Pri­mary School.

Trucks were re­port­edly seen ar­riv­ing at the school’s Bala­clava Rd en­trance on Thurs­day.

An in­spec­tion of the site yes­ter­day re­vealed an as­bestos re­moval op­er­a­tion in progress.

One neigh­bour, who did not wish to be named, said they first knew of the is­sue yes­ter­day when they saw warn­ing signs and la­belled safety tape across the en­trance.

A neigh­bour­ing child­care cen­tre was also un­aware of the is­sue, ac­cord­ing to staff.

A De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion spokesper­son said the re­moval was part of on­go­ing up­grades to the school.

‘‘We’re re­mov­ing this as­bestos as part of a $1.4 mil­lion up­grade to the school that will pro­vide brand new class­rooms and con­struc­tion that is ex­pected to be com­plete by the end of the year,’’ she said.

‘‘We have al­ready re­moved all high-risk as­bestos from schools. Low-risk as­bestos iden­ti­fied dur­ing these au­dits is re­moved dur­ing planned build­ing works or through our as­bestos re­moval pro­gram.

‘‘This as­bestos re­moval is be­ing con­ducted in school hol­i­days to min­imise the im­pact on the school com­mu­nity. The as­bestos re­moval will be com­pleted in time for the first day of term one, 2019.’’

The man­ager of the re­moval op­er­a­tion was un­able to com­ment, due to re­stric­tions the De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, be­yond stat­ing he ex­pected the clean-up to be fin­ished by next Tues­day.

Ex­po­sure to as­bestos fi­bres may cause dis­eases such as mesothe­lioma, lung can­cer and as­besto­sis, ac­cord­ing to WorkSafe Vic­to­ria.

WorkSafe gov­erns as­bestos re­moval­ist li­cens­ing but was un­able to com­ment on the specifics of the op­er­a­tion at the pri­mary school.

School ad­min­is­tra­tion did not an­swer calls and at­tempts to speak to staff went unan­swered.

Pic­tures: Rod­ney Braith­waite

Seek­ing an­swers: The only in­for­ma­tion pub­licly avail­able on the as­bestos re­moval op­er­a­tion were dan­ger signs hung on the fence at Bourchier Street Pri­mary School.

Lack of no­ti­fi­ca­tion: A neigh­bour first be­came aware of the re­moval op­er­a­tion Bourchier Street Pri­mary School yes­ter­day when she saw warn­ing tape and signs across the schools fence.

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