Asbestos 'repairs' will leave a disgraceful legacy

Christchurch-based Labour MP Ruth Dyson has called for an urgent response from the Government following news that asbestos in the ceilings of more than 4000 earthquake damaged homes will be left encased behind plasterboard rather than removed.

“We have watched the tragic trail of events which culminated in the huge loss of life with the CTV building collapse.  Now, we are witnessing the beginning of another trail, one that unless it is dealt with sensibly, looks set to become a potentially fatal legacy.

“EQC has stated that a working group, chaired by an independent health and safety consultant, developed its asbestos policy.  That person needs to be publicly accountable for this latest decision and should, at the very least, be named. 

“The agency further said it was following the relevant guidelines by encasing the asbestos. This is incorrect.  The practice is a direct contravention of the guidelines. 

“EQC are notifying the current property owners of this policy of encasement, giving the owners no choice of removal.  That in itself is unfair.  However, future owners will receive no official notification of the exercise and that is worse than unfair.

“This is obviously about saving money, but at what cost? It is risking lives. The practice must stop.”

She said a register should be established to identify all homes which have encased asbestos, with those properties remaining on the register until the asbestos was removed. 

“People in leadership positions need to be accountable for their decisions and the consequences of their actions. The Government needs to step up and do something about this now.”