Anxiety over school asbestos removal

By Myles Peterson

Concerned members of the public have approached The News regarding asbestos removal at Bourchier Street Primary School.

Trucks were reportedly seen arriving at the school’s Balaclava Rd entrance on Thursday.

An inspection of the site yesterday revealed an asbestos removal operation in progress.

One neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said they first knew of the issue yesterday when they saw warning signs and labelled safety tape across the entrance.

A neighbouring childcare centre was also unaware of the issue, according to staff.

A Department of Education spokesperson said the removal was part of ongoing upgrades to the school.

‘‘We’re removing this asbestos as part of a $1.4million upgrade to the school that will provide brand new classrooms and construction that is expected to be complete by the end of the year,’’ she said.

‘‘We have already removed all high-risk asbestos from schools. Low-risk asbestos identified during these audits is removed during planned building works or through our asbestos removal program.

‘‘This asbestos removal is being conducted in school holidays to minimise the impact on the school community. The asbestos removal will be completed in time for the first day of term one, 2019.’’

The manager of the removal operation was unable to comment, due to restrictions the Department of Education, beyond stating he expected the clean-up to be finished by next Tuesday.

Exposure to asbestos fibres may cause diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis, according to WorkSafe Victoria.

WorkSafe governs asbestos removalist licensing but was unable to comment on the specifics of the operation at the primary school.

School administration did not answer calls and attempts to speak to staff went unanswered.