Asbestos exposure scare

TWELVE maintenance workers on a shut-down at Hazelwood Power Station may have been exposed to asbestos, a union has revealed.

Australian Manufacturing Workers Union organiser Steve Dodd said the asbestos was discovered on Saturday after there was a procedural failure associated with the removal of the harmful fibre from a workspace at unit six.

“This area was supposed to be stripped of asbestos and guys were sent up to work and the gear hadn’t been packed up,” Mr Dodd said.

“We’re working on getting a streamline procedure in dealing with asbestos in future.”

It is understood workers were immediately cleared from the area of the potential exposure and the incident has partly halted the maintenance shut which began six weeks ago.

Mr Dodd said GDF Suez Hazelwood had dealt with the incident well.

“Hazelwood have stopped the job, they’re assessing and making sure procedures are followed in the future,” he said.

“We’ve been out there meeting with Hazelwood, the contractor, health and safety representatives and shop stewards for the last two days trying to assist with the process.”

A Hazelwood spokesperson said the gasket where the asbestos was exposed was immediately sealed and air-sampling in the surrounding found no evidence of airborne material.

“The union representing the workers was not satisfied with the original sampling conducted on the material, which identified a small amount of white asbestos,” the spokesperson said.

“GDF Suez Hazelwood has arranged an additional sampling of material found.”

Results of sampling by a second organisation are expected today.