Demolition of 17 Greater Hume Shire homes with loose-fill asbestos begins

THE demolition of 17 Greater Hume houses affected by loose-fill asbestos began this week as the NSW government reopened free testing in the shire.

After rain delays on Monday, work started the next day in Spurr Street to seal a home in a plastic encapsulation.

A Department of Finance, Services and Innovation spokesman said each made-to-measure encapsulation would be smoke tested to ensure an airtight seal.

“Loose-fill asbestos insulation in the ceiling space is vacuumed into specifically-designed bags 200 microns thick which are double-wrapped,” he said.

After that, the wall cavities and sub-floor are cleared of any loose-fill asbestos using the same process.

“A blue sealant is then applied to the surface of the affected premises to encapsulate any unseen fibres,” the spokesman said.

Once the home has passed an inspection, the physical knockdown could take two days and would include air monitoring.

A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said they had been advised to stay indoors or go away for the day when the vacuuming took place. She said waiting to hear the result of her own home’s loose-fill asbestos test, which proved negative, had been nerve-racking.

“You’re sitting in your lounge room and you’re thinking, ‘What am I going to do, where am I going to go?’,” she said. “It’s the oldies I feel sorry for, because the young people can start again; these old people have got to get out of their homes.”

Member for Albury Greg Aplin said the government was reopening the registration for free testing under the voluntary purchase and demolition program until August 25.

The additional time applied to Greater Hume Shire, where 38 homes had tested positive to loose-fill asbestos and Berrigan Shire, which recorded 20 positive results.

Greater Hume general manager Steven Pinnuck said the council encouraged everyone with a property built before 1980 who hadn’t yet registered with the scheme to do so.

Thirty-four of the present contaminated homes are located in Holbrook.

“I think there’s a high probability that there are potentially homes impacted in other parts of the shire that haven't necessarily seen the need for testing today,” Mr Pinnuck said.

  • Information about asbestos exposure can be found on the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance website