Asbestos health fears

Desmond Bowers is concerned about asbestos removal in East Cannington. Picture: Marcelo Palacios d415732
Desmond Bowers is concerned about asbestos removal in East Cannington. Picture: Marcelo Palacios d415732

Desmond Bowers said he had been writing to the City of Canning for several years raising concerns about the removal of the substance, commonly found in houses and fences in Perth’s established suburbs.

Mr Bowers said he was frustrated by the lack of transparency between the local government and residents when it came to notice of removal of asbestos.

‘A couple of apartments got knocked down in Gerard Street, East Cannington, in a school zone, which could have sent fumes over to the school and over to a daycare centre and my house,’ Mr Bowers said. ‘In two years, it must have been seven or 10 sites that I’ve told them about and not once have they been to my house to investigate.’

Mr Bowers said he saw dust released as he watched an asbestos fence removed two weeks ago.

‘They used this machine to take the contaminated soil away and they had a little garden hose to try to water it down but lots of the dust was going over the neighbourhood, heading towards St Joseph’s and St Norbert’s School,’ he said.

Canning Commissioner Linton Reynolds said the City of Canning did not routinely notify residents of the removal of asbestos.

‘The City focuses on ensuring residents are safe by enforcing the correct removal of asbestos,’ he said.

‘The City carries out unannounced inspections of asbestos removal.

‘There are minor works, such as fence removals or internal modifications to a house, where there is no requirement for approval from local government.’

President of the Asbestos Diseases Association of Australia in Osborne Park, Robert Vojakovic, said the public could not be complacent of the risk asbestos poses as urban renewal projects continue across the city.

‘Demolition of homes that contain asbestos products can lead to the release of asbestos fibres that pose a threat to everyone in the immediate area of the demolition, such as neighbours, pedestrians and workers without the correct protective equipment,’ Mr Vojakovic said.

Mr Vojakovic said it was no longer just workers who needed to be wary.

‘Recent studies have found the group of people in which there has been a noticeable rise in the diagnosis of malignant mesothelioma are women who have done renovations on their own homes,’ he said.

Mr Bowers said he would continue his petition for more transparency from local government on the removal of asbestos.