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Fiji Time: 5:27 PM on Friday 25 April

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Asbestos watch

Torika Tokalau
Monday, April 15, 2013

THE Occupational Health and Safety department of the Ministry of Labour has advised Navuso Secondary School to change the cement pipes that it believes contains asbestos material.

The school had recently discovered white substance in its water pipes.

The OHS Department visited the school this month to conduct its investigations.

"We have suggested to the school to work closely with relevant authorities and change the cement pipes to PVC or steel pipes as a medium-term measure," said the deputy secretary for OHS and Workers Compensation at the Ministry of Labour, Osea Cawaru.

"At this stage we are only assuming it's asbestos because we could not obtain a sample for analysis.

"We wanted to obtain a sample and confirm the presence of asbestos through polarised microscopic analysis but it was a very hard and dangerous task to do because the pipes laid are a few feet underground and digging might have affected the integrity of the pipe if it is asbestos or any form of asbestos containing material."

Mr Cawaru said they would have to wait until the school decided what to do with the pipes.

"We formally recommended to the school not to disturb the pipes except when there is repair works next time.

"Then they should inform us immediately before any work continues for precautionary measures to be put in place."

He said if the material was confirmed to be asbestos, they would carry out a risk assessment to ascertain if there was any damage or deterioration to the pipes.

"Immediately we would liaise with the school and put control measures depending on the state of the material.

"For example, if it's still in its solid state and intact, the pipes should not be disturbed. If damaged, the pipe should be removed.

"If the asbestos pipe is found to be damaged and in a deteriorated state then it will be recommended for immediate removal," said Mr Cawaru.