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Staff applauded after Waiheke asbestos cleanup

Published: 10 September 2020

Prompt actions by staff at the Waiheke Community Resource Recycling Park (CRRP) are being applauded after asbestos was incorrectly dropped off there.

Three loads of building waste contaminated with asbestos were brought into the recycling park from two separate building sites instead of being disposed of by certified asbestos removal experts.

The incidents took place over two days and the swift action of the staff on site ensured there was no risk to the public.

“The staff acted very professionally in dealing with a dangerous substance. The quick identification of the asbestos by the loader driver allowed the team to reduce the harm to the public,” said Marcus Braithwaite, Auckland Council’s Senior Waste Specialist.

“Unfortunately, the team had to close the recycling park both times while the asbestos was removed, but the way the staff isolated and covered it is to be commended.”

The cost to clean up the asbestos at the recycling park for the first incident at the CRRP was $17,000 and has been passed onto the person responsible.

Marcus says taking shortcuts with asbestos is not worth the risk.

“The $17,000 was just to clean up at the CRRP. I have been advised that the cleanup and removal at the building site was an additional $20,000. If the person had hired a certified expert to remove the asbestos at the beginning it would’ve only cost about $5000.”

Marcus recommends people check with Work Safe NZ before any renovations.

“Work Safe NZ have lists of both certified asbestos assessors and certified asbestos removers on their website. They also have information on where asbestos might be in the home.”

Work Safe NZ is the lead agency for managing the assessment and safe removal of asbestos. With many homes built before 1st January 2000 likely to have asbestos, Marcus has a simple recommendation.

“If in doubt, get it checked.”

Waiheke Local Board Chair Cath Handley is disappointed that people are trying to drop asbestos off at the recycling centre, but says, “The incidents are a reminder that asbestos is a harmful substance with clear rules around its disposal. We’re a nation of DIYers, so it is always important to know what to expect when renovating a home and how best to deal with materials like asbestos.”

Marcus Braithwaite agrees.

“It is dangerous, and you put yourself and others at risk by trying to drop it off. The only way to remove and dispose of asbestos safely is to get a professional in to do the work.”

About asbestos

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