St Patrick's College, Kilbirnie, might have to replace its roofs over asbestos concerns

St Patrick's College in Kilbirnie was closed to students for three days after traces of asbestos were found last week.
ROSS GIBLIN/ FAIRFAX NZ

St Patrick's College in Kilbirnie was closed to students for three days after traces of asbestos were found last week.

Students have returned to St Patrick's College, Kilbirnie, after the discovery of asbestos last week.

Now the school is now trying to figure out what to do about traces of the substance in its roofs and walls.

Classes resumed on Tuesday after the school closed on Thursday and Friday. Students were also away on Monday, though teachers returned.

St Patrick's College rector Neal Swindells says the school is working out the best way to deal with asbestos in the ...
KEVIN STENT/ FAIRFAX NZ

St Patrick's College rector Neal Swindells says the school is working out the best way to deal with asbestos in the roofs of the main building.

The school had made the decision to close despite tests showing the levels of asbestos were well within health and safety standards.

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Since then, multiple air quality tests showed the asbestos levels were not a concern, rector Neal Swindells said.

Swab tests in some hard-to-reach places had resulted in positive asbestos tests, so those areas had been cleaned by licensed asbestos cleaners, and retested.

"The worry is that asbestos will still come out of the roof," Swindells said.

"We've had the Ministry of Education, the medical officer of health and WorkSafe involved, everything we've done has been first rate, but we also need to encapsulate or get rid of the roofs. We would rather get rid of them."

The roofs of the four main blocks had been made out of concrete cement containing asbestos, which was beginning to break down so fibres were being released into the air.

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The school's board of proprietors, responsible for the maintenance of the school's property, was looking to see what could be done as quickly as possible.

A meeting was being held on Thursday to decide what the next step should be.

The ministry had been in regular communication with the school, which did not have to close last week, but did so as a precaution, Swindells said.

 - Stuff

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