More asbestos dust found in Civic Centre

More asbestos dust has been found on the seventh floor of the Dunedin Civic Centre and city council staff who normally work there will stay away while an investigation continues.

The small amount of dust was found in the gutter of a door frame yesterday, within metres of where asbestos was noticed in the building on Friday last week.

The Dunedin City Council has suspended work on refurbishment at the centre.

Staff welfare remained the top priority, council chief executive Sandy Graham said.

"That is why we are continuing to take a precautionary approach and send staff home while we investigate this issue."

The council has been carrying out roof repairs and refurbishment at the centre, including removal of asbestos, which is a human carcinogen.

WorkSafe is to visit the site next week.

WorkSafe had been advised of the asbestos removal work, but was not told about last Friday’s find until Wednesday this week.

The council said it was a non-notifiable incident, but it did inform WorkSafe of the discovery, as well as yesterday’s find.

"On Friday, following the discovery of asbestos, we worked through a process to keep staff safe, including beginning testing, cleaning and air quality monitoring using a specialist asbestos consultant," Ms Graham said.

"WorkSafe will conduct a site visit at the civic centre next week to check the site management plan and various health and wellbeing issues."

Ms Graham said investigations into the asbestos source were continuing and it was too soon to say if the two finds were linked.

Air quality monitoring throughout the building had so far detected no other traces of asbestos, Ms Graham said.

This included air tests yesterday that came back negative.

“We will continue to take a precautionary approach, so staff from the seventh floor will not be returning to the area until we are sure it is safe for them to do so."

Staff could either work from home or at alternative locations, she said.

The seventh floor area had been vacated, but some windows would be replaced and their surrounds tested to see if asbestos was present.

Results are expected early next week.

grant.miller@odt.co.nz

 

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