16 C
Byron Shire
May 24, 2022

Asbestos rattles Byron shopkeepers

Latest News

Bringing learning and play together

Byron Bay High School’s new agility course recognises the importance of play for learning and has students from all years actively playing during breaks and PDHPE lessons, according to Byron Bay High’s Principal, Janine Marcus.

Other News

Give up your fire

Mandy Nolan’s article (4 May) suggesting (among other things) we try to avoid heating to reduce emissions is sensible.  A...

Hydrogen hoax

This is very serious. Last year expert scientists published a warning via The Society of Chemical Industry: ‘blue hydrogen’,...

Australian politics transformed

Following an election like no other, Australia looks set to change course on climate and corruption, with the Coalition's Scott Morrison being prised from office and Anthony Albanese about to form a new Labor government with the support of Greens and teal independents.

Grants to support arts and culture flood recovery

Nearly 50 arts and cultural organisations, screen practitioners, individual artists and collaborative groups impacted by recent floods will have access to $500,000 in funding.

Review of community response called for as challenges recognised

Local community members stepped forward to help coordinate and respond to the disaster; from people getting into boats and kayaks recusing strangers in Lismore to coordinating local response hubs in the hinterland and local towns. But it wasn't all a bed of roses.

Coal fired. How are the major parties planning for its end?

There’s very little economic future for fossil fuels, even if you ignore the environmental effects. Renewable energy is cheaper, including battery storage.

[author]Simeon Michaels[/author]

Work has begun on demolishing a block of units opposite the Beach Hotel at the top of Jonson Street, Byron Bay including the removal of asbestos.

But shopkeepers in the busy retail area of town are alarmed at the potential for drift of the potentially lethal fibres due to high winds and what they claim are inadequate precautions.

The units on the corner of Jonson St, across the road from the pub and the pool, are owned by the Van Haandel syndicate which owns the Beach Hotel.

According to Bill Lowrie of East Coast Asbestos Removals, the building is, ‘riddled with asbestos; internal, external, ceilings, roof, the lot,’ and is in ‘an exposed location’.

Work began last week when East Coast demolished a shed which Mr Lowrie believed was the biggest health hazard, backing directly onto the shops opposite the Beach Hotel.

Victor Gonzalez, owner of Tasa Jara at the top of Jonson Street, says he is extremely concerned about the possibility of asbestos fibres drifting into his shop and in fact all over town.

‘They’re taking asbestos off the walls, the sheets are breaking up, and it’s always windy up here,’ he says.

Asbestos fibres, if lodged in the lungs, can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Shopkeeper closes shop

Mr Gonzalez has closed his shop, saying, ‘I can’t send my wife or my staff there’.

However, Mr Lowrie says that he is doing everything in his power to ­minimise the risks. ‘This is bonded asbestos, which means it’s between 15 and 20 per cent of the total content of the material, and is bonded into the cement.’

He acknowledges that fibres escape when sheets are broken up but says that bonded asbestos is far less dangerous than the friable asbestos found in pipe lagging or in buildings after a fire, where fibres escape freely.

According to Mr Lowrie, both Byron Shire Council and Workcover have conducted an on-site inspection and are satisfied that he is following all relevant standards and procedures.

This includes providing dust masks and disposable body suits to staff and installing a mesh perimeter fence.

‘It’s not a legislative requirement, but I’ve also installed an irrigation system – a set of misters all around the fence designed to wet down any dust before it leaves the site.’

Irrigation system installed

A second mesh-covered scaffold will be installed when work commences on the outside of the building. Mr Lowrie has also sought and obtained Council permission to work outside of normal hours.

‘It’s a difficult, unpleasant job, and we’re trying to get it done as quickly and safely as possible,’ he says, ‘but we’re going to wait for the wind to drop before we remove the roof’.

Mr Gonzalez says, however, ‘If this job complies with the regulations, then they’re not strict enough.

‘That entire site should be sealed off completely. Everyone keeps telling me it’s okay but then I invite them to come sit on the bench in front of my shop for two hours and they say, “Oh no…”.’

Mr Lowrie countered, ‘I understand that people are worried about asbestos removal, but the fact is that all these buildings are slowly weathering, and as they do, asbestos fibres are released to the air.

‘Removal is the lesser of two evils. Mr Gonzalez has every right to close his shop if he feels he is at risk while work is being conducted, but he should be thanking me because in a few weeks that asbestos hazard will be gone.’

It is believed that one in three buildings built before 1980 contain asbestos products.

The Asbestos Information and Support Service (www.aiss.org.au) urges homeowners to be extremely cautious, citing dramatic rises in cases of malignant mesothelioma amongst renovators.

In 2008, home renovations were responsible for 35 per cent of all non-commercially related incidences of the disease amongst women.


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Race action at the TVSC Mother’s Day meet

A dedicated fleet of 13 boats took to the water for the Tweed Valley Sailing Club’s (TVSC) Winter series on Mother’s Day earlier this month.

Entertainment in the Byron Shire for the week beginning 25 May, 2022

The Jezabels The Jezabels are on a national tour to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of their multi-award winning Gold Album Prisoner. For the first time, the band will be playing their...

Comment: Bridging the flooded divide

In the sodden floodplains the divide among those affected has never been clearer – those who were insured, and those who weren’t, renters and owners, Lismore LGA and everywhere else.

Grants to support arts and culture flood recovery

Nearly 50 arts and cultural organisations, screen practitioners, individual artists and collaborative groups impacted by recent floods will have access to $500,000 in funding.