Energy workers on the Central Coast fear they have been exposed to asbestos fibres after contamination tests carried out by a specialist hygienist confirmed the presence of the deadly substance at the Ausgrid depot in Noraville.
Electrical Trades Union spokesman Mark Buttigieg said it was believed that the asbestos fibres were disturbed during the process of transferring equipment from the soon-to-be retired Noraville depot to a new Ausgrid facility at Ourimbah.
“What we believe has happened is that a number of boxes have been disturbed during the move between depots, resulting in airborne asbestos fibres being detected at the Noraville depot,” Mr Buttigieg said.
“The union immediately advised all members not to enter the Noraville depot until further testing can take place and required remedial work is carried out.
“We are also advising members not to go anywhere near the new stores depot at Ourimbah, as this is where the material that is suspected of being contaminated has been transported to.
“What is most disturbing is that the workers did not find out about the contamination and potential exposure from management, but from a contractor.
“It was not until management were confronted that they admitted a positive result to airborne asbestos had been received.
“All it takes is a single fibre to become lodged in a person’s lungs and that person could face a long and painful death from mesothelioma – a cancer caused only by asbestos.
“Given the serious nature of airborne asbestos, the ETU would have expected management to act swiftly to notify the local workforce of the test results.
“It is very disappointing that they had to find out through other means.
“We are continuing to work with management to ensure all appropriate steps are taken to fix this situation and we have advised any members that were in the vicinity to complete a record of potential exposure to asbestos.”