Asbestos has been found in material collected from the construction site of the new Royal Hobart Hospital in Tasmania. A sample from the material discovered at the redevelopment site was tested and a single fibre of asbestos was identified.
Confirming that the material did contain asbestos, Tasmanian Health Minister Michael Ferguson said the individual who performed the work in question was adequately protected and there was no danger to public health arising out of the incident. He added that risks associated with asbestos had been well known since the start of the project with preventative care clearly identified upfront.
The $689-million redevelopment of the Royal Hobart Hospital is an important project that will deliver a ten-storey inpatient precinct, cancer centre, outpatient clinic and medical imaging facility as well as an assessment and planning unit among many more new facilities. However, the construction has been beset with several problems resulting in delays and cost overruns, and leading to calls from Unions Tasmania for a complete audit of all areas of construction throughout the hospital.
Though the latest asbestos incident is attributed to the redevelopment of an older building, which was built before the asbestos ban in Australia, there have been reports of the discovery of asbestos in roof panels imported from China.
In August, the Australian construction union called for a full investigation into all projects that have used products from Chinese company, Yuanda Australia, the façade component manufacturer linked to contaminations in Perth and Brisbane.
In light of these scares, the CFMEU has requested an investigation into the company’s role in all of its Australian projects, completed and uncompleted, including the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, the Gold Coast University Hospital, Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, the Perth Stadium, the Royal Adelaide Hospital, ANZ Bank’s headquarters in Melbourne, Lend Lease’s Barangaroo development in Sydney and James Packer’s new Crown Towers.