Australia: Work stops on Sydney Opera House after asbestos discovered

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Work has stopped on the $200 million renovation of the iconic Sydney Opera House building in Australia after electrical workers discovered deadly asbestos on the site. Scientific tests last Friday revealed that the discovered material was friable asbestos, prompting safety regulator SafeWork NSW to issue a prohibition order on the site to builder Laing O’Rourke.

According to the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) 35 electricians owned by electrical contractor Down have been exposed to the carcinogen.  

“Opera house workers have been put at serious risk because builder Laing O’Rourke has continually failed to find a solution to this critical safety issue,” said ETU secretary Dave McKinley. “This is the second time in two months asbestos concerns have shut down renovations at the Opera House and the ETU is demanding to be involved in approving any asbestos removal or remediation plans.”

BWI affiliates across the globe have been battling the powerful chrysotile (asbestos) lobby, which is targeting developing countries where there is no ban on the use of asbestos in place to gain a foothold in the industry.

“Developed countries have seen the catastrophic impact of asbestos on their workforce, killing millions globally. Despite a ban in place on new asbestos, Australia still records around six hundred fatalities a year from historical exposure”, said BWI Regional Representative Apolinar Tolentino. “The scientific consensus is clear: there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. We need to eradicate this deadly material altogether.”

 

See more here from the ETU.