CONFIRMED DISTURBED ASBESTOS DURING RENOVATION OF  AUCKLAND CITY STATION

The NZPFU has commissioned independent specialist advice and testing as a result of the confirmed presence of asbestos during renovations at Auckland City Station yesterday.

The station currently accommodates City and Parnell crews while Parnell station is being renovated.  Over the past 6 months renovations had been undertaken on the top floor to provide suitable accommodation for the Parnell crews.  Additional work was then being undertaken on the second floor where the city firefighters were housed.  Contractors have been drilling in the accommodation area which is currently being used over the past two days. It was a sample taken from drilling in a locker where the asbestos was confirmed.

We commend the HSR, SSO and on-duty crews, and Auckland Local representatives who moved quickly yesterday to minimise ongoing exposure after a sample from the accommodation area confirmed the presence of asbestos where invasive building renovations was occurring.  Worksafe was immediately notified.  The crews were evacuated from the station and trucks immediately brought back to station and taken off-line.  This was done in the absence of senior management on site and the NZPFU had to request an executive officer attend.  The HSR organised expert advice on immediate decontamination processes and further testing and monitoring requirements.

NZPFU-commissioned experts undertook testing this morning and we expect results this afternoon.  We have also ensured air monitoring is being conducted post specialist cleaning.   Once we have the results and recommendations from the experts we will be able to advise members of the necessary actions moving forward. 

There are many questions to be answered about how the exposure to asbestos through renovations occurred in the first place.  We have notified FENZ we will be seeking answers and accountability for the exposure.  The questions include whether any asbestos management plan was in place and adhered to, what testing prior to and monitoring during renovations was taken for asbestos and other particles/dust to ensure the safety of all those in the area, and on what grounds FENZ determined it was appropriate to continue to use the accommodation area and the station while renovations were being undertaken.

FENZ is also standing up a Level 2 investigation.

  • The NZPFU advises anyone who has been at City Station, or used City station appliances and equipment for the past 6 months to register exposure to asbestos through the safe@work kisok.  It is advisable to see your GP to have the exposure recorded and to seek advice.  

  • The NZPFU has requested FENZ provide an independent medical expert to be able to advise staff of the implications of exposure to asbestos and any action that needs to be taken.   We have told FENZ that reliance on its medical practitioner is not acceptable. 

  • We have also informed FENZ that psychological support needs to be available for those that have been exposed.

Those currently accommodated at City Station have personal and FENZ-issued clothing and belongings that have been contaminated.  The Auckland Local is relying on expert opinion to determine the best practice for decontamination and cleaning, and how members will be compensated if their personal belongings cannot be cleaned to the standard of best practice. 

The Auckland Local will be keeping members informed of any developments.

In unity,
Wattie Watson
National Secretary

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