'Disturbing' discovery of asbestos at busy intersection
UPDATE 5.30pm: The threat of workers being potentially poisoned after mishandling asbestos has prompted the Queensland Government to demand the National Broadband Network roll-out be suspended until the Commonwealth takes action to protect their health.
Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie held a press conference on Monday afternoon to reveal three sites - Mackay, Carseldine and Banyo - had all involved workers and possibly passers-by being exposed to the deadly spores.
Mr Bleijie warned it could have implications for the Commonwealth in the form of a class action law suit.
In Mackay, NBN contractors had cut through a concrete pipe contained asbestos, which was then left on a busy footpath for at least five days before being poorly cleaned up.
In Carseldine, the state's Workplace Health and Safety Queensland officers learned workers had water-blasted the asbestos with some workers found with the material on their exposed faces.
"There are people working on these sites right across Australia - but also particularly I'm concerned about the workers of Queensland who may be unprotected and not have the necessary training to deal with asbestos issues.
"(They) now will have many, many years of waiting, wondering if they have been contaminated to an extent that they have medical complications in the future."
Mr Bleijie said each of the three cases were handled by regional offices, but after learning of this emerging pattern, every Queensland pit would now be examined.
"Unfortunately, the three sites we've seen may not be the last of it," he said.
"The debacle has now cross the Queensland borders and we're now dealing with it the best we can with Workplace Health and Safety officers."
Mr Bleijie has written to Federal Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten - the letter sighted by APN - but Mr Shorten said he was yet to receive notice about the allegations.
Telstra Chief executive David Thodey took full responsibility for the mishandling of asbestos at pits in New South Wales and Victoria on Monday following discussions with the Federal Government.
EARLIER: Asbestos littered a Mackay footpath for almost a week after contractors working on the National Broadband Network severed a concrete pipe at a busy intersection then failed to contain the deadly spores.
When the toxic powder was eventually cleared, contractors used the wrong type of vacuum.
At least one worker was involved with the telecommunication pit, although APN has sought further clarification from the government.
The Mackay discovery was made on April 29 and handled by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland officers in each area.
It was only when the Queensland Government began calling each of these regional branches that a pattern of a dangerous mishandling of asbestos began to emerge.
Queensland Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie named the corner of Victoria and Carlyle streets as one of three major breaches of asbestos handling, the other two in Banyo and Carseldine, both suburbs of Brisbane.
"What my department found is extremely disturbing," Mr Bleijie said.
Mr Bleijie has now written to Federal Minister of Workplace Relations Bill Shorten to demand assurances about the safety of Queenslanders living near telecommunication pit and information on procedures that have been put in place to protect workers who may potentially deal with asbestos.
"As a state regulator we will provide whatever assistance we can to improve contractor management of asbestos in Queensland but the Federal Government has an obligation to ensure appropriate safeguards are in place for its own projects."
Mr Bleijie said the responsibility for the health of anyone affected belonged with the Federal Government.