Asbestos closures slow new start at state school
New asbestos contamination has forced the closure of several buildings at a public high school, but the state’s Education Department is downplaying the risk.
The library and administration buildings are closed at the Karabar High School in New South Wales; decontamination work is being carried out as students return for the new school year.
A NSW Department of Education spokesperson said the risks were fairly low.
‘Based on publicly available advice provided by NSW Health and WorkCover, a single low intensity exposure such as this would be of minimal risk, however those with concerns should discuss these with their medical practitioner,” the spokesperson told a local newspaper.
“Asbestos fibres are considered safe when they are in materials that are bonded and not in a friable condition. All known asbestos containing material at Karabar High School is of the bonded type.”
It appears most of the school community is relieved at the quick and effective response by safety and education authorities.
An initial scare saw the closure of five other buildings on fear of cross-contamination, but they have since been deemed safe.
The demountable structures for the library and administration section remain closed-off.
“The staff that generally work in these buildings have been housed in alternative accommodation within the school grounds. The remediation of the Administration and Library demountable buildings is expected to be completed by the end of February 2014,” the Education Department spokesperson reportedly said.
“A register of staff who were in the buildings has been completed. Staff have been offered support through the Employee Assistance Program and encouraged to seek other avenues of support. Staff and the small number of students who use the buildings will not re-enter them until a clearance certificate is provided at the completion of the works.”
Karabar school P&C president Dave Lavers told The Queanbeyan Age all the right boxes had been ticked.
“Asbestos is one of those things- yes it's a problem area, but it's nothing we have to panic about, because people handle it in a measured and balanced way. And I'm certainly very comfortable with the way our school executive is handling it to ensure that students and staff are safe,” he said
“Unfortunately, there does need to be capital expenditure to improve the quality of resources,” he said.