Canberra to demolish asbestos-insulated homes

Authorities in Canberra, Australia, are to buy back and demolish more than a thousand homes containing dangerous asbestos insulation. The buy back and demolition programme, which is expected to cost more than AUS$1bn, follows a review by an asbestos response taskforce.

The 1021 houses all had Mr Fluffy loose fill asbestos insulation installed at the time of construction in the 1960s and 70s. An AUS$100m clean-up programme was initiated from 1989 to 1993 to remove all visible and accessible asbestos from identified homes. However, concerns remained and a taskforce was established earlier this year to resolve the issue.

Launching that taskforce, minister for workplace safety and industrial relations Simon Corbell said in June, “It has been suggested that home owners feel similar to those that have lost their homes to flood or fire. Like an advancing tide that is engulfing homes and families one at a time, there is a sense of loss, uncertainty, financial hardship and overwhelming concern about their financial and physical wellbeing.”

The taskforce has now concluded that demolition of the homes, located in a number of Canberra suburbs, is the only lasting solution. The buyback scheme on offer to afflicted homeowners is voluntary, and is based on the unblighted value of the homes. The taskforce will work with homeowners wanting to remain in their houses on medium term hazard reduction and risk management requirements, but it says that long term habitation is not practicable or safe.

Once houses are demolished and the land they stand on has been remediated, sites will be resold, with the original homeowner given the first option to buy.

Mr Fluffy asbestos sticker

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