EQC today updated the Asbestos page on their website (here). From the way the information is worded it seems EQC will take responsibility for areas of a house that contains asbestos and has experienced earthquake damage.
EQC spokesman Rod Stiven is quoted by Stuff (here) as saying the encasement policy followed health guidelines.
"Enclosing is a reliable method for ensuring asbestos is safely contained," he said.
"We are following the relevant national guidelines and the recommended practice of Canterbury Public Health. Asbestos is only a health risk where it is damaged or deteriorating, and in those cases it is removed.”
What is not clear is the point at which the damage is considered insufficient to warrant the costs involved in removal.
Where there is no damage the EQC website implies that it will still be possible to have the asbestos removed at the homeowner’s expense:
Can I have all the asbestos in my home removed?
If there are parts of your home that are undamaged by the earthquake and may have asbestos, you’ll need to organise separately to have these tested and addressed by your own contractor. (This work isn’t covered by EQC.)
The question remains as to whether Fletcher/EQR will cooperate and allow this work to be incorporated into the repair work programme.
Prior to today’s update, the EQC Asbestos page contained the following, dated the 2nd of October 2012:
The Canterbury Home Repair Programme has identified around 43,500 homes that may have asbestos in some of their building materials.
Asbestos was in widespread use in New Zealand houses and commercial buildings from the 1940s to the 1990s. It was commonly used as a wall or roof cladding, for insulation (both thermal and acoustic), and as a fireproofing material.
In everyday use, asbestos is only a health risk if it becomes damaged and fibres are released into the air. However, treatment and removal of damaged asbestos is a specialist job.
How we're dealing with asbestos
- Asbestos management training has been provided to staff from EQC and Fletcher EQR.
- If the presence of asbestos is suspected, Fletcher EQR organise testing.
- Repairs that involve asbestos are intensively managed by skilled contractors, following guidelines from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
Page last updated: 2 Oct 2012