Asbestos sheds make way for fishing

The under-threat former Waterfront Industry Commission building in Port Chalmers. Photos: Gerard O'Brien
The under-threat former Waterfront Industry Commission building in Port Chalmers. Photos: Gerard O'Brien
A push to address Port Otago's asbestos problems looks likely to claim a treasured building in Port Chalmers, but also open up public access to more of Steamer Basin.

Port Otago has been working to demolish a block of old asbestos-ridden sheds on Fryatt St, on the north side of Steamer Basin, while also mulling the fate of the old Waterfront Industry Commission building in Port Chalmers.

Contractors from ATL Group have been slowly removing the roofs of the Fryatt St sheds since late last year, as part of a $3million project which will see the site completely cleared by the middle of the year.

Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders at the Fryatt St wharf yesterday, where asbestos-ridden sheds are being removed to open the area up as a public fishing wharf.
Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders at the Fryatt St wharf yesterday, where asbestos-ridden sheds are being removed to open the area up as a public fishing wharf.
Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders said the company was making good progress, and would start work on removing the roof of the last shed, closest to the Monarch Wildlife Cruises car park, next week.

The roof was expected to be gone by March, and then the site cleared and remediated over the next ''couple of months'', to ensure it was safe for the public to use.

The plan was then to open it up to public access as a fishing wharf, at least until the planned waterfront development spread to that part of the basin, he said.

''It will be really cool. This is us kick-starting harbourside by clearing those old sheds, getting it nice and tidy, making it a public amenity, and then ultimately we'd see the harbourside development take up that space.''

The same contractor was compiling costings and final recommendations for the WIC building, known as the ''bureau'', in Port Chalmers, he said.

The brick structure, built in 1946, was home to the Maritime Union of New Zealand's Port Chalmers headquarters, and had been the epicentre of the 1951 waterfront dispute and waterfront confrontations in 2000-01.

Mr Winders said it had a deteriorating asbestos roof and was earthquake-prone, at just 22% of new building standard. The cost of saving it would be ''significant''.

''I would see that as a very slim chance. It's an old building and it's slap in the middle of the port and it's in an appalling state of disrepair.

''We've removed all the occupants of it, and the union had its finale Christmas party in it pre-Christmas.

''It's a strong probability it's going to come down.''

chris.morris@odt.co.nz

 

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