Mt Pleasant Primary: asbestos material remains in school

Asbestos is the problem that will not go away.
Asbestos is the problem that will not go away.

HIGH-RISK asbestos-containing material discovered at Mt Pleasant Primary School more than a year ago remains in the toilet block eaves today.

An inspection of Mt Pleasant Primary school in June 2015 confirmed material containing asbestos was present in a number of areas, including the eaves of the administration and toilet block, teaching blocks and sun shade louvres.

Education Minister Peter Collier said only three areas were considered high-risk, or risk rating one, with the remainder rated as low priority with risk ratings of eight or nine.

“Priority one removal of the sun shade louvres in the teaching area was completed in the July holidays,” Mr Collier said.

“However, replacement of the toilet block eaves was re-scheduled for the October school holidays.”

Mr Collier said no priority one areas had been identified at Mt Pleasant Primary School during the comprehensive 2013 Asbestos Containing Materials Audit of WA Schools and that the potentially hazardous substance was only found during a reinspection in June last year.

“It is important to remember asbestos-containing material, if in relatively good condition and undisturbed, presents negligible risk to the health of staff, students and visitors,” Mr Collier said.

The revelation follows questions in Parliament from Opposition Education spokeswoman Sue Ellery who asked for additional details on schools that have had reinspections for asbestos since the 2013 audit.

Mr Collier’s response revealed new asbestos-containing materials had been identified at 17 schools, including Mt Pleasant Primary.

Ms Ellery said she was concerned the hazardous material had not been removed from Mt Pleasant Primary for more than 12 months after it was located.

“If the Government has identified that it is of enough risk to be removed I just don’t understand what the delay is,” she said.

“You would also think parents would want to be assured their children have been exposed to no risk during the period of delay.”

An Education Department spokeswoman said Mt Pleasant Primary School principal Joseph Fasolo would not provide a comment.

State School Teachers Union of WA president Pat Byrne said the Education Department’s own Asbestos Management Plan defined control measures for risk rating one or two areas as “remove source of disturbance or otherwise take immediate action to negate any potential health risk”.

“It is fair for staff to be concerned that ‘immediate action’ can take over a year to happen,” she said.

“One can only speculate how long it takes to deal with lower priority issues.”

Ms Byrne also did not accept Mr Collier’s assertion that asbestos-containing material in good condition presented negligible risk at Mt Pleasant Primary.

“The Minister may be correct in general terms, but risk rankings one, two and four of the Asbestos Management Plan identify the condition of the material and a ‘high probability of disturbance’ as being a key factor in determining the level of risk,” she said.

“Given the Mt Pleasant assessment identified three risk rating one areas in June 2015, it would appear these areas must have been assessed as not being in a relatively good condition and having a high probability of disturbance.”

Schools that have had remedial work completed since they were reinspected

Babakin Primary School

Banksia Park Primary School

Brookton District High School

Broomehill Primary School

Esperance Senior High School

Glendale Primary School

Quinns Rock Primary School

South Fremantle Senior High School

Springfield Primary School

Works scheduled to be completed during July 2016 school holidays

Currambine Primary School

Koorda Primary School

Millen Primary School

Mount Pleasant Primary School

Currently under investigation as to the works required

East Fremantle Primary School

North Cottesloe Primary School

Williams Primary School

Works being undertaken as part of the current roof replacement project

Point Peron Camp School