Melbourne has had it’s fare share of asbestos tragedies in the past, but this controversial substance has managed to creep it’s way back in to the building industry through poor quality control in material selection and vetting of suppliers.
In Melbourne, there are four new electrical substations with asbestos flooring imported from China. Yarra Trams rushed to secure the four sites after testing found that there is a small risk of exposure to the deadly substance.
Last year, 3 modular electrical substations were built in the CBD, East Brighton, and Thornbury. There is one which is still under construction in West Brunswick. All these substations have white asbestos flooring banned in Australia in the year 2003.
In mid-September, Yarra Trams was told about the illegal presence of asbestos. After receiving this information, it issued a legal notice to show cause to Siemens which was the company contracted to build them. Siemens then subcontracted the work to Adelaide based Robin Johnson Engineering.
Chinese Company Deceived Australian Engineering Firm
Last month, it was found out that Robin Johnson Engineering used asbestos materials in 2 new electrical substations in Adelaide. This is an emerging trend that has made Australia’s Asbestos Safety and Eradication state that this was only the tip of the iceberg.
Robin Johnson who is the company’s managing director said that Siemens and Yarra Trams were notified as soon as the asbestos was found.
He also said that the Chinese supplier had misled his company. However, he refused to give the name of the Chinese supplier.
The South Australian company has claimed that the Chinese supplier had deceived them by providing documentation that the flooring material they delivered was asbestos free.
Yarra Trams testing found that asbestos was present in 7 out of the 24 swab samples from substations Elizabeth Street in the city, Brighton East, and Thornbury. However, it returned a negative air sample.
Thornbury residents complained that the substation built last year had taken up a large chunk of a children’s playground and a small local park.
On Monday, contractors who are certified for asbestos removal Melbourne commenced the safe disposal of the materials wearing full protective equipment and following safe procedures.
Phil Altieri who is the tram division secretary of the Rail, Tram, and the Bus Union said it was extremely disappointing to discover that asbestos was installed even after there was a major program to eliminate it from the tram network in the 1990s.
Simon Murphy, the spokesman or Yarra Trams said that the company had the sites inspected by independent experts who concluded that the risk of exposure to people who enter the site and the general public is negligible.