Asbestos crisis at Lords

A Lords gym staff member turns a patron away from the closed facility. Picture: Marcus Whisson d417384
A Lords gym staff member turns a patron away from the closed facility. Picture: Marcus Whisson d417384

Following recent maintenance work on its asbestos roof, an independent expert found three of 20 surface samples tested positive for asbestos.

The hazardous locations were in undisturbed areas such as on top of walls and not accessible to the members of the public.

Main use and public areas did not test positive for asbestos.

Subiaco chief executive Stephen Tindale said the City closed Lords as a ‘precautionary measure’ because their priority was the safety of its users, staff and tenants.

‘Further testing by an independent expert, including airborne sampling, is underway and Lords will remain closed until the City is assured that the centre is safe,’ Mr Tindale said.

The City has engaged a public relations team, legal advisors and insurers to manage the crisis. Subiaco councillors will discuss the matter at their meeting tonight.

The asbestos roof, which covers 75 per cent of the centre, is recorded on Subiaco’s Asbestos Register.

Asbestos Diseases Society of Australia president Robert Vojakovic said he was shocked that ‘such a rich council’ had not already made the ‘common sense’ decision to remove the asbestos roof.

‘An asbestos roof is an appalling risk, even if it is closely monitored,’ Mr Vojakovic said.

‘The average residential roof would release two or three billion fibres a day and the larger the roof, the more fibres.

‘This is a potential environmental disaster. An asbestos roof is like an unexploded bomb ” you don’t just close down the building, you defuse the bomb. You remove it.’

Range of Motion health and fitness director Dan Williams said he was training clients on Friday night when they were told to vacate the building within 10 minutes.

Mr Williams said tenants would meet Lords’ management today to discuss the length of the closure.

‘Lords and the City of Subiaco have been really helpful; they got straight on to everything,’ he said.

‘There is this nagging question in the back of my mind of how critical this all is, thinking ‘will this come back in 20 years and impact people?’.

‘It makes it tough to run a business, but given the choice between losing a bit of money and looking after my staff and clients’ health, well, I would close for a year if it came down to that.’

An information desk will be set up at the Subiaco Library from today.