Asbestos removal worried family

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014

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A Christchurch community board chairwoman has got into a spat with a demolition company over her concerns about their handling of debris from a house containing asbestos.

Last week Avondale resident Andrea Cummings wrote on her Facebook page that she was shocked to see workers wearing hazardous materials suits and masks loading demolition material into a bin next door to her home.

No-one had told her what was happening and she feared the material contained asbestos, potentially putting her family "only 3 metres away" at risk.

A WorkSafe New Zealand spokesman told The Press it visited the demolition site last week and reviewed a video posted online by Cummings.

"On the basis of the information that we've got, we're satisfied that the work is being undertaken appropriately," he said.

Cummings said the company had tried to bully her into withdrawing her concerns.

She is the chairwoman of the Burwood-Pegasus Community Board, but said her comments were made "as someone who wants to advocate for the community".

The posts were made on her personal Facebook page but were visible to the public.

Pro Tranz Ltd owner Gerard Daldry said the company had not bullied Cummings but wanted her to apologise for making public comments that were "completely not true".

"We've bent over backwards to help her. What she has done is actually quite detrimental to the whole thing."

Pro Tranz was required to notify only WorkSafe New Zealand when it came across asbestos, but he agreed the company should have told Cummings about what was happening next door to her.

"Normally we do. That was probably a shortfall on our behalf," Daldry said.

Asbestos specialists removed most of the contaminated material before demolition work started last week but some under the floor had not been accessible until the top of the building was removed.

Daldry said the bin near Cummings' fence was for general demolition material, not material containing asbestos.

It had all been dampened down with a hose to minimise any dust before it was picked up and moved into the bin.

People had a "right to worry" about asbestos, he said, but Cummings and her family were never at any risk of exposure.

He said she should have discussed her concerns with him or WorkSafe New Zealand rather than posting publicly on Facebook.

"I don't want this to have an adverse effect on the industry. People need to be better informed. "Let's make this something that's a learning curve for everybody," Daldry said.

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- The Press

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