Contractor fined for burning asbestos
Tuesday, 26 November 2013 11:30 a.m.
A Te Puna earthworks and rubbish removal company and its owner were convicted and fined $16,400 in Tauranga District Court this week for discharging and burning asbestos, treated timber and other contaminants.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council prosecuted Contour Limited and owner Stephen Mark Miller for the offence, which happened in January at the defendant’s premises in Waikaraka Drive East, Te Puna.
In January The Relocatable House Company asked Mr Miller to demolish and remove several structures from a Bellevue property, including a workshop, fence and a garage clad with cement board.
He took roofing iron to a recycling company, tyres to a tip and removed three truckloads of demolition waste which he burned at his own property. Later that week the Regional Council received a complaint that a contractor had disposed of asbestos in an unapproved place.
A Regional Council officer saw a large pile of demolition waste at the property, including polystyrene, treated timber, electrical wire, pastic, cement board, laserlight sheeting, greenwaste and tyres. Some of the waste had been buried and some burned. Samples taken at the property were found to contain white asbestos, brown asbestos, arsenic and copper.
Miller told the officer he had not worked with asbestos before and did not know the rules on dumping waste, but knew about special requirements for disposing of asbestos. He did not have a consent for the waste, but knew it was illegal to burn plastic, electrical wire and treated timber.
The court heard that asbestos in cement board was not particularly hazardous but if it became fragmented the risk increased. While burial was the proper disposal method, some areas of New Zealand had large quantities buried which became a problem when land was later converted to residential use.
Proper removal of asbestos cement board includes spraying it with PVA glue and water, breaking it as little as possible, wrapping it in plastic sheeting and removing it in plastic-lined bins and disposing of it at an approved site.
A total of 821 asbestos-related diseases were recorded in New Zealand in the past 12 years, including lung cancers and asbestosis, according to the Asbestos Diseases Association of NZ’s annual report.
Regional Council Pollution Prevention Manager Nick Zaman said the Regional Council was concerned about the increasing number of illegal waste disposal cases, particularly those involving asbestos.
“This is a local and national problem. The increasing costs of waste disposal and more stringent earthquake-strengthening requirements means that some demolition and waste disposal contractors are taking the risk of disposing of waste illegally to get their business ahead of their competitors,” he said.
“By disposing of asbestos and other hazardous waste unlawfully, some contractors are putting themselves and the wider community at risk. They are also putting future users of affected land at risk. Many reputable demolition contractors in the Bay of Plenty now routinely engage asbestos specialists to confirm whether or not buildings contain asbestos.
“Anyone arranging demolition or renovation work should ensure that steps are taken to confirm whether asbestos is involved and if so, use a reputable company. The cheapest quote is not always the safest option,” Mr Zaman said.
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