Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Front page The Oz: 'A lot of people use this street', says NBN victim

'A lot of people use this street', says NBN victim
CLAIRE Clark always had doubts about the excavation work that was happening outside her home in Brisbane's north for the National Broadband Network. Now her mind is made up.
"It would be a disaster . . . a lot of people use this street," the feisty 79-year-old declared last night, after it was named as the latest suburban site suspected to have asbestos contamination linked to the NBN rollout.
Her spick and span brick home in Carseldine is one door down from a Telstra pit that was accessed by NBN construction crews in March.
Queensland Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie said two workers were seen to have had "debris" sprayed across their faces and clothing after a high-pressure hose was used to clean out the telecommunications pit on the corner of Lebelle Place and Salito Street. The concrete lids of that burrow and another across the street were still slightly ajar last night.
The Carseldine pit scare was one of three detailed yesterday by Mr Bleijie in Queensland, the latest state to be dragged into the asbestos contamination scandal.
Ms Clark said she had been concerned from the start that the work was proceeding too quickly.
"It seems like they are rushing in where angels fear to tread," she said. "I won't be signing up for the NBN."
In Penrith, in Sydney's outer west, Ian Vevers' normally quiet neighbourhood was being worked over by Telstra personnel in protective clothing, taking soil samples from pit sites.
The one directly outside his home in Evans Street was opened last month by crews laying the groundwork for the broadband system. After losing a family member to mesothelioma a decade ago in Britain, Mr Vevers said he was acutely aware of how lethal asbestos was.
"It never crossed my mind what they were doing or not doing," he told The Australian. "I was just astounded . . . I walk past that pit with my six-year-old granddaughter every day to walk to school."
Mr Bleijie said NBN contractor Silcar had been issued with prohibition and improvement notices over the three alleged breaches in Queensland between March and last month. The Victorian-based company, responsible for the rollout in parts of NSW, Queensland and ACT, did not return The Australian's calls.
Mr Bleijie said Workplace Health and Safety officials had found that the two affected workers had asbestos on their faces and clothes after the alleged incident near Ms Clark's home on March 8. They were not wearing masks or protective gear.
Then, in Mackay in central Queensland in April, Silcar workers cut a concrete pipe containing asbestos and left the dust uncontained on a public footpath for five days, Mr Bleijie alleged.
A fortnight ago, Queensland government officials found Silcar workers had failed to wear protective respirators correctly while working in a Telstra pit in Banyo, also on Brisbane's northside. It was not marked with the required asbestos warning signs.
Additional reporting: Mitchell Nadin, David Crowe

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