Ile Perseverance-Experts complete tests on asbestos-tainted houses


Mr Choppy, flanked by the two experts, during the press conference

The experts have also recommended ways to safely dispose of it.

In a press conference held last week at the Ministry of Land Use and Housing headquarters, Independence House, the principal secretary for housing, Yves Choppy, was present alongside the two representatives of the A.D. Envirotech Company, Ross Nefodov and Thomas Lobsey.

Mr Choppy said bringing the two experts came after it was seen that the asbestos situation at Ile Perseverance needed expert help to determine the risks at the site.

“Their tasks covered mainly assessing the risks on site and they brought certain equipment needed that is not available here, but worked closely with the departments of health and environment,” he said.

The experts presented their findings to the representatives of the Ministry of Land Use and Housing, the Ministry of Health and the department of environment.

Mr Nefodov said they had to bring in appropriate microscopes, air testing equipment and a range of chemicals to work with.

“We took a dozen measurements from the air, since asbestos harms people through their lungs when they inhale the fibre, inside the houses and from the soil. We took these samples from the boundaries of the site, porches of the houses, on the roads leading to the housing estate. And our test results showed there is no difference in the air compared to anywhere else,” he said.

He added that they also took around 80 soil and dust samples and found chrysotile asbestos in certain portions of the site, houses and the soil, after which they have worked on recommendations on how to render the site safe – recommendations based on Australian standards.
Speaking on the situation in Australia, Mr Nefodov said there are actually a lot of asbestos houses in Australia.

“Australia is actually a country with a lot of asbestos houses and our laws revolve around knowing where the asbestos is, making sure that the fibre cement boards remain in good condition, which is to regularly paint the boards and to stop any potential release of fibres, and to notify the people who use the boards, houses and buildings, where the asbestos is, and how to manage it should they need to do maintenance on it, and all of these are requirements in our states,” he said.

On the local situation, Mr Choppy said based on the experts’ reports, the agencies like health and environment will assess the best way forward to remove the material from the site.

“There are areas that need to be removed and others need to be sealed,” said Mr Nefodov.
“Our recommendations revolve around removal of areas where there is a potential of fibres to become airborne, for example if there is asbestos in the dust it needs to be cleaned up so that it cannot be picked up by the wind.”

The experts said they also trained the supervisors of the contractors at the site on removal methods, how the workers should protect themselves. Similar training was given to representatives from the departments of environment and health.

Mr Choppy said pending the start of the cleanup process, the Ile Perseverance site is secured and work has stopped there.