Asbestos scandal sets off fears at 69 sites across Australia

Almost 70 major buildings and construction sites across Aus­tralia have been supplied with materials by a Chinese company linked to the discovery of deadly asbestos at a Perth children’s hospital and a Brisbane office tower this week.
The Australian has obtained a list compiled by the company, Yuanda, showing it has supplied products to projects including ANZ Bank’s headquarters in Melbourne, Lend Lease’s Barangaroo development in Sydney and James Packer’s new Crown Towers in Perth. The 69 projects named in the document include government-owned projects such as the Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, the Gold Coast University Hospital, Fiona Stanley Hospital in Perth, the Perth Stadium and the Royal ­Adelaide Hospital.
There is no suggestion that Yuanda’s materials used in those projects were contaminated with asbestos or that building workers or others were ever put at risk, but the construction union said last night it wanted a full investigation into the company’s role in all of the projects and an urgent assessment of the risks.
It has emerged this week that two of the 69 sites on the list — the $1.2 billion Perth Children’s Hospital and the 1 William Street tower in Brisbane that will become the Queensland government’s new executive building — are both contaminated with ­asbestos because of products supplied by Yuanda.
The Perth site has white asbestos, or chrysotile, in some of its Yuanda-made roof panels, while the Brisbane tower was found to have asbestos-tainted gaskets.
Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union national secretary Michael O’Connor said building companies should stop using Yuanda’s products as he called on the federal government to crack down on the importation of cheap Chinese materials containing banned asbestos.
“The government has been aware that this is a serious issue for more than a year,” he said.
“Border Force has a role to play; they need to do more ­inspections.”
The Department of Immigration and Border Protection said it conducted risk assessments on all cargo imported to Australia, with all cargo identified as high-risk then being physically examined. “We have significantly increased our operational focus on goods that pose a risk of containing asbestos and we will continue that level of ­intensity” a spokesman said.
West Australian Health Minister John Day said traces of asbestos had been found in roof panels supplied by Yuanda at the Perth Children’s Hospital, ­potentially exposing scores of construction workers to ­contamination. He said tests had shown the presence of banned white asbestos in four of seven samples of roof panels at the yet-to-be-completed hospital.
The CFMEU said workers were worried they were exposed to the asbestos for about 24 hours, with some reporting the site was showered with dust on the day the panel was cut into.
The union found 5 to 10 per cent chrysotile in samples it tested. Health authorities say a product with more than 0.1 per cent chrysotile is hazardous, leading to the risk of lung ­cancer, mesothelioma and ­asbestosis.
Mr Day said the project’s lead contractor, John Holland, had imported the roof panels from Yuanda, a private company that describes itself as a facade builder, fabricator and supplier to buildings around the world. Some of its notable projects include the Bird’s Nest stadium at the Beijing Olympics, Japan’s Cocoon Tower and the Trident Pentominium Tower in Dubai.
Mr Day said John Holland would conduct an audit of all other imported building materials at the Perth Children’s Hospital site and would examine its supply chain. He said John Holland would replace the eighth-floor roof at the hospital at no cost to taxpayers.
Yuanda could not be reached for comment at its Perth or ­Sydney offices. ANZ, Lend Lease and Crown were contacted for comment.

One Comment Add yours

  1. We should ban the product indefinitely and show China that they must obey our standards and not always force their cheap crap on us.They have almost destroyed our manufacturing with this cheap standard of workmanship they force upon us.


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