Asbestos delays BNZ demolition

Last updated 13:54 25/01/2013
BNZ specialist asbestos workers
Iain McGregor

INSPECTION: Workers in protective clothing examine BNZ House, where demolition has been halted.

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Demolition specialists, wearing protective clothing because of the asbestos risk, inspected the roof of BNZ House in Cathedral Square today.

The demolition of BNZ House was stopped last July 20 when asbestos was found on steel beams encased in concrete.

Specialists are stripping asbestos from the steel beams, but the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) has no date for when demolition will be complete.

A spokeswoman said the work was part of the process that would lead to the building coming down.

Last year, contaminated demolition rubble from the building was stockpiled on a Hereford St site until asbestos was found.

The stockpile site was covered in tarpaulins and dampened down after the July discovery.

The BNZ House demolition also contaminated Hereford St, where loose fibres of the harmful material were found.

Traces of white and brown asbestos were found at five points in Hereford St and nine points on the stockpile site, a report commissioned by Cera found.

Health experts say asbestos is most harmful if a person is exposed to high levels of the material over a long period.

Prolonged, chronic exposure to asbestos can lead to the development of various lung diseases, including asbestosis and a form of lung cancer know as mesothelioma.

It can take many decades after exposure for lung cancer to develop.

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