Residents of various Victorian towns are banding together in order to clean up the trail of mess left behind by various tornadoes. In particular, the towns of Mulwala, Yarrawonga, Bundalong, Koonoomoo and Rutherglen were the most affected by these tornadoes.
Residents have begun the clean-up by clearing away debris, fixing fences and sheets and replacing lost roofs and walls. There is also rubbish, shattered glass and fallen trees littered across streets that needs attending to. However, the most pressing and dangerous issue by far is asbestos.
Since most of the houses in these areas were built before or during 1970s, it is likely that many of them contain asbestos. During that time, asbestos proved to be a very popular source amongst home constructors and builders, as it was fire resistant, water resistant and extremely versatile. Amongst other places, asbestos was found in metal sheeting at Denison County Caravan Park, Mulwala, NSW.
Asbestos expert removers, fire and rescue crews have conducted reports and assessments on the areas that are known to contain asbestos or asbestos fibres. As an extra safety precaution, crews identified buildings that were likely to contain asbestos, and closed off these areas to members of the public. Fire and Rescue NSW member Jeremy Stubbs has stated that they are not letting anybody touch anything or be in close proximity to the sites until the asbestos has been safely removed. The main priority at the moment is to “move to recovery phase and make things safe.”
Asbestos must be removed with care and caution, as asbestos fibres can be detrimental to the human health when inhaled. It can lead to mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer.
In Australia mesothelioma compensation (or asbestos compensation in Australia, or asbestosis compensation in Australia) is available to those who unfortunately do contract mesothelioma. There have been incidences of those undertaking clean up work, including firefighters, developing asbestos related conditions, following relatively low exposure to asbestos in Australia.