Lower Hutt childcare centre closed by asbestos

ASBESTOS: Worksafe NZ determined there was asbestos at the former IHC home which is being demolished.

ASBESTOS: Worksafe NZ determined there was asbestos at the former IHC home which is being demolished.

A childcare centre in Silverstream, Upper Hutt, has closed its doors after asbestos was confirmed in a building being demolished next door.

Natalie Comerford, head teacher at the not-for-profit Marlborough Street Childcare Centre, said since last Friday she had been trying to get information from Upper Hutt City Council on what restrictions were in place over demolition of the former IHC home over the fence from them.

Comerford said the company doing the work, Hutt Construction Ltd., had assured her there was no risk to the 30 children the centre looks after, and in particular there was no asbestos.

CLOSED: Marlborough Street Childcare Centre, Silverstream, Lower Hutt.

CLOSED: Marlborough Street Childcare Centre, Silverstream, Lower Hutt.

She persuaded Worksafe NZ to visit yesterday, and after tests the government agency confirmed there was asbestos.

Worksafe closed the work site, deeming it “contaminated”.  As a precaution, the childcare centre has also closed.

Yesterday afternoon all the children were confined inside, with all the windows shut on a hot day, Comerford said.”We put the fans on but it was stinking hot.”

Parents were sent emails and texts to come and pick up their children.

Comerford said it was very difficult for some of them to interrupt their working day.

She was concerned that even though Worksafe NZ stopped the actual demolition work, workmen kept on loading rubble onto trucks.

“They were creating clouds of dust.”

One of the region’s Medical Officers of Health, Dr Stephen Palmer, said Worksafe had reacted promptly and correctly when the risk was identified.

He said it had been confirmed that the asbestos was “friable” and in the open air environment, “and is being managed as such”.

Other neighbours were being contacted to be given information tonight and Regional Public Health hoped to have a staff member at the Marlborough St site to help.

“I can quite understand why the parents and staff of the childcare centre, and other neighbours, are likely to be very concerned.

“However, the risk to their health is very, very low.”

Phillip Delaney, of Hutt Construction Ltd., refused to comment.

Richard Harbord, director of planning and regulatory services at Upper Hutt City Council, said the work being done at No 9 Marlborough St required no resource or building consent.    

The demolition was happening under an exemption possible under a section of the Building Act that placed responsibility for carrying out the work in a safe and responsible manner on the company.  Under those circumstances, Worksafe NZ was the proper agency to determine any breach or safety shortcomings.

Two parents who contacted the Upper Hutt Leader were angry about the disruption.  Derline Aston said staff at the childcare centre were “always juggling the purse strings” to keep the community-based service going and having to close temporarily was a real blow.

Swabs were taken at the childcare centre and further tests were being done.  Comerford said she was awaiting word, which probably won’t come until late tomorrow, on whether it was safe for the childcare centre to re-open.

If it was deemed unsafe, she said she was negotiating to use the Whitemans Valley Playcentre premises to look after children so that parents were not left in the lurch.

 – Hutt News

Source Article from http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/65557427/Lower-Hutt-childcare-centre-closed-by-asbestos
Lower Hutt childcare centre closed by asbestos
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カテゴリー: Childcare   パーマリンク


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