NBN Co has issued an apology to a Western Australian resident after it started digging up asbestos next to his house without adequate prior warning.
The incident occurred earlier this week when Sean Kelly discovered danger tape and barriers across his driveway.
“It was a really bizarre situation. The first time I found out about the asbestos was when they put up the [danger] sign,” he told the ABC.
Mr Kelly has reported that at around 8:30am a worker asked if he would be around the house during the morning, but failed to make any mention of asbestos. Soon after another worked began digging up the pit next to Kelly’s driveway in full protective gear.
The site is also across the road from a primary school and was being dug up during the school drop off period.
“It was before school time so there were school kids around. You’d think everybody would be notified [of] what’s going on,” said Kelly.
NBN Co has guidelines around asbestos removal that requires contractors to give residents at least 48 hours notice prior to removal.
“We apologise to residents for the concern this matter will have caused, and wish to underline that our expectation is that all delivery partners working on our behalf comply with rigorous standards when it comes to asbestos management.”
The company has also launched an investigation into the incident.
“We are working closely with our delivery partner to establish the facts as part of an investigation into the issue to understand why communication was only issued less than 24 hours in advance to residents,” said the head of NBN Local WA, Jane McNamara.
After speaking to the ABC on Monday afternoon Mr Kelly discovered a warning leaflet about the asbestos in his letterbox but has stated that it wasn’t there the day prior.
Whether the leaflet was there during the morning is unclear. Regardless, one would think that more than 24-48 hours warning should be given before digging up potentially cancer-causing materials in a residential area, especially one so close to a school.
It might also be prudent to attempt more modern methods of information delivery (and customer service) when it comes urgently warning impacted residents about something so important. Perhaps an email, text or phone call?
Regardless, Asbestos removal isn’t new for the company. Back in 2013 NBN Co found that Telstra telco pits that were being upgraded for the NBN contained the hazardous mineral.