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Asbestos fears in Berrigan Shire

WorkCover NSW advised Berrigan Shire Council that loose-filled asbestos may have been used in the region by former contractor Mr Fluffy.

SOPHIE BURGE August 20, 2014 4:00am

Fears that the most dangerous type of asbestos may have been used to insulate Berrigan Shire homes is being investigated.

WorkCover NSW advised Berrigan Shire Council that loose-filled asbestos may have been used in the region by former contractor Mr Fluffy.

WorkCover has learned an ACT investigation into Mr Fluffy asbestos in the 1980s and 1990s had not extended into NSW.

Up to 14 local government areas, mainly in the state’s south, could be impacted.

Berrigan Shire Council enterprise risk assessment manager Michelle Koopman says at this stage the presence of Mr Fluffy asbestos is just a possibility.

She said council will learn more about the investigation at a meeting with WorkCover and Local Government NSW next month.

‘‘We (council) are still in the infancy of being informed and have a meeting with Local Government NSW and WorkCover NSW on September 4,’’ she said.

‘‘The meeting will give them an opportunity to give us some advice on how community notification and consultation can proceed, and exactly what the role of the local council will be.’’

Berrigan’s Paul Demolition owner Paul Head said while the asbestos potential should be taken seriously, he said he had come across ‘‘very little’’ since starting his business.

‘‘I’ve only seen one house with loose-fill in 18 years of business,’’ he said.

‘‘The house was out of Finley towards Deniliquin and I explained to the owner that I did not have the correct licence to remove that type of asbestos.’’

The Mr Fluffy insulation company installed loose-fill asbestos in the roof spaces of more than 1000 homes across the ACT during the 1960s and 1970s.

A hazardous material expert said home owners may have also purchased the product directly from the company’s base in Canberra.

A federal government clean-up of homes affected by the potentially deadly remnant fibres of the Mr Fluffy asbestos in the ACT during the ‘80s and ‘90s did not extend across the border.

NSW Minister for Finance and Services Dominic Perrottet said an independent investigation into the Mr Fluffy asbestos in NSW has been called.

‘‘I have now asked WorkCover NSW to contract an independent specialist to work with the NSW Heads of Asbestos Coordination Authorities to help establish the scope of properties impacted,’’ he said.

‘‘A free testing service will also be offered to residents in the 14 local government areas, for any suspected loose-fill asbestos from homes built prior to 1980, for a 12 month period.

‘‘We will also continue to fund the role of the project manager asbestos policy with Local Government NSW throughout 2015/16, to support and assist councils in adopting and implementing the Model Asbestos Policy across the state.

‘‘Sprayed asbestos insulation like loose-fill asbestos is a highly hazardous asbestos material and should not be disturbed.

‘‘It requires appropriate risk controls to prevent disturbance or exposure to air-borne fibres.

‘‘Only qualified tradespeople with training in suitable asbestos control measures can work in any areas identified as containing asbestos.’’

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