Removal of asbestos debris by specialist contractors is expected to start in the next few days on nine properties affected by the Ponsonby Intermediate building fire.
The insurance companies for the Sheehan St houses will be working with residents on the timetable for their return. The Ministry of Education also has insurers involved in this process.
Remediation of all nine properties and the school is expected to occur at the same time, so there is no re-contamination of sites previously cleaned up.
Four air monitor stations have been set up to check that there are no dangerous levels of asbestos particles in the air. So far readings have shown airborne particles are at very low levels, and are not of public health concern. Debris on footpaths and streets has been cleared away and the road has been flushed.
The remediation of properties contaminated with asbestos will require contractors to wear safety gear as a precaution, because of the length of time they may be exposed to the fibres. This is for the workers’ protection, and does not signal that there is any risk to neighbours or to anyone else in community.
The contractors will undertake the works following the Approved Code of Practise for Asbestos Removal. The methods used will minimise release of fibres from the affected properties.
The affected residents have been asked to vacate their buildings until remediation is completed, and these properties will have cordons, and signs advising that people should not enter the property without protective gear.
Auckland Council and ARPHS are considering the results of investigations by the insurance companies’ loss adjustors, and assessing any remaining risk. WorkSafe is also required to approve any planned remediation work.
ARPHS Medical Officer of Health Dr David Sinclair says the risk to people in the neighbourhood continues to be low. “While asbestos is known to have damaging health effects, this usually occurs after high level exposure over long periods of time,” he says.
FAQs for neighbouring residents
Contact: Eileen Cameron, Auckland Council, 021 527 894