Thoughts on ODT Insight : Chris Morris investigates Asbestos plague


asbestos - dob in a dumper []Dob in an asbestos dumper []

Cowboy New Zealand Governments wake up after YEARS of Devastating Sleep.

New Zealand’s asbestos death toll will climb to about 5100, excluding deaths from asbestosis, which were difficult to determine, a WorkSafe spokesman said. It was expected the peak of asbestos-related disease would not be reached until sometime between 2030 and 2040, the spokesman said. (ODT)

Is the Dunedin City Council opening its eyes quickly enough even with the Amalgamated Workers’ Union (AWUNZ) on its tail ? Good council workmen dead and memorialised in photographs, frightening….

“They worked regularly with the city’s asbestos water pipes – cutting and grinding, kicking up asbestos dust and sweeping up the mess later.” (ODT)

Asbestos cement pipe []Asbestos Magnesia Pipe Insulation [Asbestorama via]Weathered asbestos cement pipe [] and asbestos insulation wrap [Asbestorama via]

HOW MANY Dunedin City Council (DCC) staff, work crews, contractors and subcontractors have been required to work with asbestos product and exposure to fibres over the years —without comprehensive safety training and correctly specified respirators and safety clothing for individual protection ?
The answer is likely to be unlimited numbers.
Has anything changed at DCC ?
Have all asbestos contaminated DCC-owned sites and work areas been identified to date ?
Are formal protocols and a register in place for personnel who believe they may have been exposed to asbestos and require admittance to a testing regime ?

Asbestos WarningProper warning []

ODT Insight: Asbestos: The Silent Killer

### ODT Online Sat, 18 Jun 2016
Asbestos toll will grow
By Chris Morris
The death toll from asbestos-related disease in New Zealand will continue to climb for decades to come, despite a ban on imports of building materials containing the toxic mineral. Environment Minister Nick Smith on Wednesday announced New Zealand would join more than 50 other countries in banning the importation of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs), beginning on October 1, unless exemptions were granted. The move was designed to further reduce the “appalling” death toll caused by asbestos, used in building products for more half a century. It now claimed an estimated 170 lives a year, he said.
Read more

[DCC tragedy] ODT: Suspicions of cancer cluster
Former Dunedin City Council water maintenance staff based at the Midlands St yard say the risks of asbestos were not understood and early precautions inadequate […] a solemn memorial to 14 men taken too soon – photographs of the dead, showing men lost to lung, bowel or prostate cancer, pinned to a noticeboard in the Dunedin City Council’s former Midland St workers’ yard.

ODT: Asbestos: ‘We were totally ignorant’ of risk’ (+ video)
ODT: Asbestos claimed him (+ video)

Other stories:

11.5.16 ODT: Asbestos likely to be cost in future
Asbestos may impact the financial health of the Dunedin City Council’s coffers in years to come but the extent of the cost remains unknown, councillors heard at yesterday’s annual plan deliberations. Group chief financial officer Grant McKenzie told councillors work was under way at present to establish the extent of asbestos use and issues in council-owned assets, but the cost to rectify it would not be known until the investigation was complete.

4.5.16 ODT: Removing asbestos pipes
The Dunedin City Council says it will remove decaying asbestos pipes from public land after their existence at Sullivans Dam was noted by the Amalgamated Workers Union. The pipes are beside sheds near the entrance to the popular fishing spot in Leith Valley Rd. The council yesterday said it had not known the pipes were there.

21.4.16 ODT: Asbestos at pool no threat to public
The Dunedin City Council says there is no immediate threat to the public following the discovery of asbestos at Moana Pool. During a maintenance check of the building early last week, asbestos was discovered in the pump storage area under the pool level of the building and in restricted storage areas away from the pool.

20.4.16 ODT: No ‘immediate health risk’ from Moana Pool asbestos
Group Manager Parks and Recreation Richard Saunders said the maintenance checks identified further inspection and testing for asbestos was needed at several sites, of which Moana Pool was one. […] Initial inspections have been carried out at two other buildings – the Sims building in Port Chalmers, which is leased to a club, and a storage shed located next to Tahuna Park used by Parks and Recreation staff and contractors.

16.4.16 ODT: Council denies asbestos danger
A union says the public could easily have been exposed to cut and broken asbestos pipes left unsecured in a sometimes unattended Mosgiel yard. The Amalgamated Workers Union (AWU) said the pipes at the Dunedin City Council’s Mosgiel wastewater treatment plant were not in a safe state and could have been accessed by children in the residential street.

Asbestos Cement Pipe - close-up of Crocidolite & Chrysotile [Asbestorama via]Asbestos cement pipe, close-up of Crocidolite and Chrysotile
[Asbestorama via]

ASBESTOS (pronounced /æsˈbɛstəs/, /æzˈbɛstəs/ or /æzˈbɛstɒs/) is a set of six naturally occurring silicate minerals, which all have in common their eponymous asbestiform habit: long (roughly 1:20 aspect ratio), thin fibrous crystals, with each visible fiber composed of millions of microscopic “fibrils” that can be released by abrasion and other processes. They are commonly known by their colors, as blue asbestos, brown asbestos, white asbestos, and green asbestos.

Asbestos mining existed more than 4,000 years ago, but large-scale mining began at the end of the 19th century, when manufacturers and builders began using asbestos for its desirable physical properties: sound absorption, average tensile strength, resistance to fire, heat, electricity, and affordability. It was used in such applications as electrical insulation for hotplate wiring and in building insulation. When asbestos is used for its resistance to fire or heat, the fibres are often mixed with cement or woven into fabric or mats. These desirable properties made asbestos very widely used. Asbestos use continued to grow through most of the 20th century until public knowledge (acting through courts and legislatures) of the health hazards of asbestos dust outlawed asbestos in mainstream construction and fireproofing in most countries.

Prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause serious and fatal illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma, and asbestosis (a type of pneumoconiosis). Illness from asbestos exposure can be found in records dating back to Roman times. Concern in modern times began in the 20th century and escalated during the 1920s and 1930s. By the 1980s and 1990s asbestos trade and use was heavily restricted, phased out, or banned outright in an increasing number of countries.

The severity of asbestos-related diseases, the material’s extremely widespread use in many areas of life, its continuing long-term use after harmful health effects were known or suspected, and the slow emergence of symptoms decades after exposure ceased made asbestos litigation the longest, most expensive mass tort in U.S. history and a much lesser legal issue in most other countries involved. Asbestos-related liability also remains an ongoing concern for many manufacturers, insurers and reinsurers.
Read more at Wikipedia: Asbestos

Myth: Asbestos Fibres are firmly locked in a cement matrix.
Fact: Asbestos Fibres are readily released from deteriorated or weathered surfaces.

Myth: Asbestos-cement cannot be crumbled to powder by hand pressure.
Fact: Products such as asbestos-cement corrugated siding become friable from damage.

Myth: Asbestos-cement products present no exposure hazard to building occupants.
Fact: Asbestos roofing and siding can release fibres inside as well as outside the building. Not all asbestos-cement roofing and siding remain in as good condition. In many countries, the inside of asbestos-cement roofing and siding is subject to the normal activities of the occupants that can release fibres from the surfaces. An asbestos-cement panel can be vibrated by wind, causing some abrasion of the edges.

Myth: Asbestos-cement pipes present no health or environmental hazard.
Fact: Health and environmental hazards start during the manufacturing process when the ends of the pipes are ground and the waste is disposed of carelessly. Fine dust produced during installation of the pipes is a hazard to the workers and community. When the pipes are dug up and removed, fibres are released as they are broken and crushed. Pressure pipe for water distribution was made with crocidolite and amosite as well as chrysotile.

Myth: Paint and encapsulants offer permanent protection against asbestos fibre release.
Fact: Paint and encapsulants deteriorate and take asbestos fibres with them when they peel off. Why is it necessary to protect a material that is touted for its weather-resistance and durability, yet encapsulants for asbestos-cement roofing and siding are widely marketed. Encapsulants are a form of paint, and a good paint job begins with surface preparation. The hope is that no one sands asbestos-cement roofing and siding before they paint or encapsulate it, because of the obvious dust and health hazard created.


The Health and Safety at Work (Asbestos) Regulations 2016 came into force on 4 April 2016. They set out the new rules around the removal of asbestos, and the circumstances where WorkSafe must be notified.

New licensing system for asbestos removal
A national licensing system for asbestos removal was introduced on 4 April 2016. The licences available under the new asbestos regulations are:

Type of licence : What asbestos can be removed?

Class A
Any type or quantity of asbestos or asbestos containing material, including:
• any amount of friable asbestos or asbestos containing material (ACM)
• any amount of asbestos contaminated dust or debris (ACD)
• any amount of non-friable asbestos or ACM.

Class B
Any amount of non-friable asbestos or ACM
ACD associated with removing any amount of non-friable asbestos or ACM.

No licence is required for removing:
• up to 10 m2 of non-friable asbestos or asbestos-containing material over the whole course of the removal project for the site
• asbestos-contaminated dust that is associated with this volume of asbestos or asbestos-containing material, and/or any associated minor volume of asbestos-contaminated dust or debris.

A new role of asbestos assessor has been developed. A licensed asbestos assessor will provide air quality monitoring during removal work, inspect the finished job and provide a clearance certificate. A licensed asbestos assessor will be required to assess Class A asbestos removal work from 2018 onwards.

Current Certificate of Competence holders will be able to continue removing asbestos (in the categories specified on their certificate), and supervise asbestos removal, until their certificate expires.

Related Posts and Comments:
11.5.16 DCC DRAFT Annual Plan 2016/17 —Harden up, Council [survey budget]
10.4.16 DCC: Council meeting Mon 11 April at 1pm [DCC sites – see Comments]
25.11.15 Mayor Cull and the GREAT Asbestos Defeat ….trucks in toxic waste
27.1.10 Stadium: CST to clean up contaminated land
14.10.09 Questions about landfill charges + DCC reveals contaminated sites

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

Election Year. This post is offered in the public interest.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAAsbestos-cement roofing before and after cleaning []

Asbestos-cement roof shingles [Asbestorama at]Asbestorama: Asbestos-cement roof shingles []


Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, DCC, Democracy, Design, Dunedin, Economics, Education, Finance, Heritage, Housing, Infrastructure, Media, Name, New Zealand, Ombudsman, People, Politics, Pools, Project management, Property, Public interest, Resource management, Site, Stadiums, Town planning, Travesty

10 responses to “Thoughts on ODT Insight : Chris Morris investigates Asbestos plague

  1. Elizabeth

    Congratulations to Chris Morris and ODT for going down this road this year. Looking forward to more revelations as the public and council workers (past and present) get on board with this information share, and the overall Health and Safety campaign required. Liability must fall where it will.

    emimusic Published on Mar 3, 2009
    Radiohead – 2 + 2 = 5 (Live)
    Music video by Radiohead performing 2 + 2 = 5. (C) 2006 EMI Records Ltd

    Are you such a dreamer
    To put the world to rights?
    I’ll stay home forever
    Where two and two always makes up five

    I’ll lay down the tracks
    Sandbag and hide
    January has April’s showers
    And two and two always makes up five

    It’s the devil’s way now
    There is no way out
    You can scream and you can shout
    It is too late now

    Because you have not been
    Payin’ attention
    Payin’ attention
    Payin’ attention
    Payin’ attention
    You have not been
    Payin’ attention
    Payin’ attention
    Payin’ attention
    Payin’ attention
    You have not been
    Payin’ attention
    Payin’ attention
    Payin’ attention
    Payin’ attention
    You have not been
    Payin’ attention
    Payin’ attention
    Payin’ attention
    Payin’ attention


    I try to sing along
    I get it all wrong
    ‘Cause I’m not
    ‘Cause I’m not
    I swat em like flies
    But like flies the buggers keep coming back
    But I’m not
    Oh hail to the thief
    Oh hail to the thief
    But I’m not
    But I’m not
    But I’m not
    But I’m not

    Don’t question my authority or put me in the dock
    ‘Cause I’m not
    ‘Cause I’m not
    Oh, go and tell the king that the sky is falling in
    When it’s not
    When it’s not
    When it’s not
    Maybe not
    Maybe not

    • alanbec

      Calling Elvis on The Phone

      Elvis! El O’Halloran, pipes changer of Eire? We got asbestos, right here in River City. Get doon and take it out. No, there is no compo for eventual death. We are a private Company, “Rip, Sh** and Bust”.

  2. Elizabeth

    ODT Insight continues with Chris Morris’ asbestos investigation today!
    How much of the release of DCC information is being carefully controlled by the council bureaucracy ? Funny this should all come up in more detail AFTER the DCC’s Draft Annual Plan process in which the mayor and councillors’ pet projects and fripperies have been approved for funding.

    ● DCC “eye-watering costs” for replacement: About 260km of asbestos water pipes had been laid across the city from the late 1930s to the 1990s, almost all of which remained in the ground.

    ODT Online Mon, 20 Jun 2016
    Asbestos: $80m bill for council
    The legacy of asbestos includes an $80 million bill for the Dunedin City Council as it works to replace a network of ageing asbestos water pipes across the city. […] That includes an estimated $850,000 needed to address asbestos found inside Moana Pool earlier this year, as well as at least five other buildings the council is responsible for.
    Read more

    Note url for the story above:
    http: // /old-pipes-hazard-union

    █ The Amalgamated Workers Union (AWUNZ) appears to be doing good responsible work to uncover asbestos issues at DCC including for city infrastructure and at council sites around the city.


    ● DCC: asbestos in part of the Tahuna wastewater treatment plant’s roof and nearby buildings, including the Tahuna Park pavilion, used for equipment storage by the council.

    ODT Online Mon, 20 Jun 2016
    It’s a multimillion-dollar menace
    By Chris Morris
    Dunedin will be grappling with the legacy of asbestos for a century to come. As well as the disease and death still to be endured in the decades ahead, the city faces a $100million-plus bill if it wants to clean up the mess left behind.

    The city built by Scottish immigrants is, put simply, riddled with asbestos.

    As in other parts of the New Zealand, virtually any home built or modified in Dunedin between 1940 and 1990 was likely to harbour asbestos. It could be found everywhere, from asbestos tiles on the roof and the soffits and gutters surrounding them, and the decorative ceilings, wall claddings and vinyl floors found inside. The same was true of most commercial buildings constructed from 1940 to 2000, which harboured many of the same threats.
    Read more


    ● DCC-owned ex-Sims building at Port Chalmers, locks changed.
    ● DCC backtracks from legal waiver to yacht club members “signing away any rights of recourse back to the city over health issues”.

    ODT Online Mon, 20 Jun 2016
    Frustration as yachts, equipment locked away
    By Chris Morris
    The Port Chalmers Yacht Club has found itself caught in the asbestos crossfire. And it is not alone, as more clubs and tenants find themselves grappling with the fallout from asbestos in the buildings they use.
    Read more

  3. Elizabeth

    Not asbestos in this case, but did you know South Dunedin has one of New Zealand’s top ten contaminated sites:

    Hit the red dot at Dunedin, it reads:
    #10 Old Dunedin Gasworks (tar pit)
    Location: 45 Hillside Rd, South Dunedin
    Cost: Unknown
    Progress: Awaiting investigation

    ### 8:42 pm on 20 June 2016
    RNZ National Insight
    The Toxic Go-Slow: Has the clean-up of New Zealand’s most poisoned places stalled?
    By Ian Telfer
    The clean-up is finally beginning for a handful of New Zealand’s most toxic sites, but there are thousands more in the queue behind them. The government set up a register for the thousands of former factories, sawmills and agricultural chemical dumps seven years ago but, since then, the subject has once again sunk from public view. Has the clean-up effort been quietly placed on the backburner?
    Read more + Images

    Insight: New Zealand’s Most Poisoned Places​
    Audio | Download: OggMP3 (28′39″)

  4. Elizabeth

    Wed, 22 Jun 2016 | ODT Insight
    More from Chris Morris on A S B E S T O S

    Asbestos-related disease has so far claimed an estimated 5100 lives across New Zealand.

    ODT: DIY asbestos death risk
    New Zealand’s love affair with DIY is a fatal attraction that will continue to claim lives, as more unsuspecting homeowners rip into floors, walls and ceilings containing asbestos. But more research is needed to determine the extent of the risk, which remains a relative unknown in New Zealand despite dire conclusions reached overseas, a leading cancer epidemiologist says. The call came from Prof David Skegg, of the University of Otago’s department of preventive and social medicine, during a month-long ODT Insight asbestos investigation.

    ODT: Carefully removing asbestos
    Dunedin carpenter Andy Armstrong took all the right precautions when removing asbestos from his Warrington home. But he believes there is “not nearly enough” public awareness of the dangers faced by other homeowners when handling the toxic material. His day-to-day work in the building industry meant he knew what to look for, and to treat it with care. He wore overalls and an appropriate respirator, put up plastic sheeting inside the house to stop dust sneaking in, and kept the work area wet as he worked.

    ODT: Keen renovators at risk of disease (+ video)
    Thinking of ripping up the old lino and sanding back the timber underneath? You might want to think again. John Alipate admits he never gave asbestos a second thought. The Dunedin-based businessman, who now runs a home renovation company, spent his early years buying up older homes and renovating them to build up a rental property portfolio in the 1990s. But that plan did not include asbestos, the carcinogenic mineral which lurked in the floors and ceilings he was sanding into a dust cloud.



    HealthEd | Health Promotion Agency & Ministry of Health
    Health Ed is a catalogue of free health resources brought to you by the Health Promotion Agency (HPA) and the Ministry of Health. The public health resources on this website support healthier New Zealand communities. These resources will help you to make informed decisions for yourself and those you care about.

    Do not risk your health or the health of other people by incorrect or unnecessary removal of asbestos. If you do intend to remove asbestos yourself, it is vital that you fully protect yourself and others at all times, indoors and outdoors.

    All About Asbestos

    █ Removing Asbestos from the Home

    WorkSafe NZ is New Zealand’s workplace health and safety regulator. One of its roles is to regulate hazardous substances – including asbestos – in the workplace. The workplace includes your home when work/repairs are done by a contractor. WorkSafe NZ administers the Health and Safety in Employment (Asbestos) Regulations 1998 which are designed to minimise the risk of exposure to asbestos.

    About Asbestos

    Working with asbestos

    █ Asbestos information for householders

  5. Elizabeth

    Experts have said we are an easy “dumping ground” for products because of weak regulations.

    Mon, 27 Jun 2016
    ODT Editorial: Asbestos: lessons must be learned
    This newspaper’s investigation into the toxic legacy of asbestos has made for sobering reading. […] It was once deemed something of a “miracle material”, given its properties of strength, pliability, insulation and fire-resistance, which made it suitable for use in a wide range of building products. […] Yet it is now known as a “silent killer”; its deadly microscopic fibres inhaled by unsuspecting victims when the product is exposed or damaged, lying dormant for decades, but leading to asbestosis, lung cancer, or malignant mesothelioma.

  6. Hype O'Thermia
    The three most common types of asbestos that were mainly used in a wide range of products are:

    Chrysotile (white asbestos)
    Crocidolite (blue asbestos)
    Amosite (brown or grey asbestos)
    Blue asbestos is known to cause the most harm as the fibres are relatively long and thin, therefore they are more likely to reach the lungs rather than the curlier fibres of white asbestos.
    This is the most commonly used form of asbestos and can be found today in roofs, ceilings, walls and floors of homes and businesses. Chrysotile asbestos also was used in automobile brake linings, pipe insulation, gaskets and boiler seals. Although it is more prevalent, some studies show it takes more exposure to chrysotile than other types of asbestos to develop related diseases.

    *** All of the identified forms of asbestos can cause asbestosis, malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, laryngeal cancer and other serious diseases. ***

  7. Elizabeth

    Fri, 8 Jul 2016
    ODT: Dunedin near top for asbestos concerns
    The number of people concerned about exposure to asbestos is continuing to climb across New Zealand, and Dunedin is among the centres leading the charge, new figures show. WorkSafe New Zealand data showed 20,323 people were on the country’s asbestos exposure register, as of December last year, and the tally was continuing to climb as more concerns about exposure were recorded.

    █ The WorkSafe spokesman said the asbestos exposure register was a voluntary list of all people with concerns they may have been exposed to asbestos fibres at work, in the home, or from other sources.

  8. Elizabeth

    Wed, 24 Aug 2016
    Previous health failings repeated with asbestos
    By Emeritus prof Gil Barbezat
    OPINION Facts about asbestos in New Zealand published in the Otago Daily Times Insight series and elsewhere are disquieting. Most local people realised only in the 1970s that asbestos posed health hazards. It could be questioned why imports of raw asbestos were banned here only in 1984 and asbestos products banned only this year. Why such a long wait?

    ● Emeritus Prof Gil Barbezat is a retired gastroenterologist and former gastroenterology and medicine department head.

    • Hype O'Thermia

      Why such a long wait? It’s no good rushing into things……….. There could be a political backlash.

      (I said to Charlie, “We’ll just have to leave it
      Standing on the landing, that’s all
      You see the trouble with Fred is, he’s too hasty
      You’ll never get nowhere if you’re too hasty.”)

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