Asbestos removal teams clear 120 sites on Rottnest Island of potentially hazardous material

Author: ABC Online Nicolas Perpitch

Posted: 25 Dec 2014, 8:26am

Asbestos removal teams have cleared about 120 sites on Rottnest Island of potentially hazardous material after public concerns prompted a full sweep of the popular WA holiday destination.
As a result, the Rottnest Island Authority said there were no longer any sites in the two highest-risk categories listed on the island’s asbestos register released Wednesday.
In September, a Perth man found fibrous material outside bungalows in the Bathurst area, north of Thomson Bay.The authority fenced off the area and sent samples to the mainland for testing. It was later advised the substance was white asbestos. It said the material was intact and non-friable, and in this condition, was of very low risk to anyone staying in the units or passing by.
However, the Australian Medical Association said at the time “low risk” was not good enough and urged the authority to remove any asbestos in the island’s accommodation.
The authority said it decided to organise the sweep on top of the October survey of sites. It organised a ground-based survey by external asbestos consultants who checked the whole settlement area and the rest of the island.
Asbestos removal teams then took away material from sites identified as potential sources of asbestos fragments.
The authority said the material was removed from about 120 sites, mainly old buildings, regardless of whether it was asbestos or not.
The RIA has taken the advice of external consultants and has identified and remediated asbestos used in buildings. The island’s 2012 asbestos register contained nine sites categorised as A1, the highest category of risk, where access must be restricted and the material removed under “fully controlled conditions”.
That usually means workers in head-to-toe jump suits and breathing masks.
The current register has no A1 sites and no A2 sites, where access is also restricted and the material must be removed using “appropriate control measures”.
There are still 41 sites listed as A3, where there must be a planned removal of any asbestos and it must be sealed and screened off.
The asbestos is typically in external wall cladding and fibre cement fences in the staff cottages and other buildings.
The vast majority of sites on the island are in the much lower risk A4 and A5 categories.
The Governor’s Circle heritage huts, for example, are listed as A4 with fibre cement ceilings and asbestos wall lining.
Rottnest Island Authority chief executive Paolo Amaranti said it was committed to cleaning up any asbestos, which was used extensively throughout the state before the 1980s, in the best way possible.
“Since 2002 the RIA has taken the advice of external consultants and has identified and remediated asbestos used in buildings, and removed all asbestos roofing in holiday units,” Mr Amaranti said.
“Following the discovery earlier this year of a fragment later identified as chyrostile at Bathurst, checks have been carried out throughout the settlement for any previously undiscovered material on or close to surface that may have been exposed by weather and/or ongoing erosion.”