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Asbestos Scare - Tasmanian Council Denies Responsibility

Sunday, May 09, 2010

The Tasmanian Government is being urged to buy back an asbestos contaminated hospital in Devonport and turn it into an emergency services hub.  The Director of Public Health issued a warning about the safety of the building after loose asbestos was found on two levels of Devonport's old maternity hospital.

The building's owner has gone into liquidation and there is now pressure on local and state governments to intervene.

The Devonport City Council has put a fence around the site where children have been seen playing.

But the council says it bears no legal responsibility.

The Mayor, Lynn Laycock, says the government has a moral obligation to intervene because of public health risks.

She says it should buy the site and relocate ambulance and fire services there.

"They would certainly get their money back from a private developer purchasing the current site on Victoria Parade because it's prime real estate," she said.

Devonport Alderman Steve Martin says lawyers acting in the James Hardie case have advised the council it is a State Government responsibility.

"Because it was a State Government facility, and when they on-sold the facility, including the equipment, they would have known or have realised that there was asbestos in the building, as there has been in the Ulverstone, New Norfolk and Burnie hospitals," he said.

But in a statement, the Minister for Workplace Relations David O'Byrne says he is mindful of the Building Act, and it is clear the cleanup is a council responsibility.

However, the Government has asked Workplace Standards for urgent advice on cleaning up the site.

Reported by ABC News


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