The Transport Workers’ Union (TWU) has expressed its concern about a waste disposal company in Toowoomba handling asbestos illegally and has called for all of the company’s depots to be audited and its council contracts to be reviewed.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland investigated the disposal company and samples from their Toowoomba yard tested positive for asbestos.
Peter Biagini, the TWU secretary, has said that the other depots may also be contaminated and need to be checked now that it has been confirmed that the company has been dealing with asbestos illegally.
He said that workers have been exposed to this deadly substance unknowingly and could even be taking it home with them to expose their families through dust on their clothes.
Mr Biagini also said that the Gowrie Creek flows through the depot in Toowoomba into the Condamine River that supplies drinking water to Dalby.
He said that the government is aware of the extremely dangerous nature of asbestos and is setting up a dedicated safety and eradication agency for asbestos from July 2013 but until then the legal responsibility is still with the state governments jurisdiction.
After the results of the testing were confirmed the TWU contacted the manager of the company, the Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie and the councils that currently have ongoing contracts with this waste disposal company.
The TWU will meet with the workers that have been affected to talk about the related safety considerations and they will also chair a community meeting on the 23rd April with legal and asbestos experts.
Mr Biagini said that 650 Australians are given a diagnosis of mesothelioma every year. This is the worst type of asbestos related disease. Once people have been exposed to asbestos there is nothing that can be done and the best option is to protect people in the first instance.