The cost of removing asbestos in New South Wales

Despite the fact that the ACT government has spent roughly two million dollars demolishing a house that contains ‘Mr Fluffy asbestos’, nothing is being done to remediate homes across the rest of New South Wales that contain the deadly fibre.

In the 1990s, a one million dollar asbestos removal program was carried out in ACT. This program took place after a business known as ‘Mr Fluffy’ imported pure amosite asbestos from South Africa, one of the most toxic forms of asbestos, and installed it into a number of houses in the 1970s as a form of roof insulation.

The NSW government, despite being aware of the asbestos issue at the time, failed to take any action. The toxic insulation is still present in an unknown number of houses in Queanbeyan and on the south coast. Dr Keith McKenry, the man who oversaw the removal of asbestos in ACT during the 1990s, described the lack of action by the NSW government as ‘criminally negligent’. He further states that although there was a large amount of evidence which demonstrated the detrimental effects of asbestos, the NSW government did not take any action to stop ‘Mr Fluffy’.

Residents often refuse to remove asbestos from their houses, as it costs roughly $40,000 to remove the toxic substance. In 2005 the Queanbeyan Council offered to pay twenty five percent of the remediation costs if the state or federal government were also willing to compensate the residents. Unfortunately, the state and federal government did not agree to this proposal.

Asbestos cases in New South Wales have affected many lives. Mesothelioma in New South Wales seems to be on the rise. Thus the reduction of asbestos exposure in NSW is a positive step to take, which will hopefully result in the number of mesothelioma cases in NSW dropping.

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