Investigations into asbestos after scare at Bechtel site

WORKPLACE Health and Safety Queensland is currently investigating a case of asbestos found on Bechtel's Australia Pacific LNG site on Friday, while unions claim that Bechtel refused to let workers water the area for safety.

But a Bechtel spokesperson said there was no need to water down the area as all materials were bonded in cement, therefore no friable materials were released.

WHSQ representatives deemed the site safe for works to continue over the weekend, although the specific area remains restricted under state procedures.

It is not the first asbestos scare on the Curtis Island LNG projects.

Almost 100 electrical workers were exposed to white asbestos contained in prefabricated buildings brought in from overseas, in August last year.

But this time the asbestos is said to have been found in mulch from the Rockhampton tip.

With the use of asbestos banned on site on any Bechtel or ConocoPhillips projects, investigations are also underway internally.

A Bechtel spokesperson said a subcontractor on the APLNG project notified Bechtel that small pieces of "bonded cement sheeting" had been found inside a product used as part of sediment control, on the periphery of the site.

One worker, speaking anonymously to avoid repercussions, said the green recycled mulch came from the Rockhampton tip, and it was workers who were putting the mulch into bags used for water run-off who discovered the white fibro cement sheet.

"When they found out about it (the workers) were a bit unhappy because they believe they should have been told earlier and they requested the area be hosed down to eliminate any airborne particles," he said.

"Apparently Bechtel said no, it was all okay."

Bechtel Gladstone general manager Kevin Berg said Bechtel made it clear the use of asbestos on site was not allowed on Bechtel projects, "and we make that very clear in our purchasing and subcontract documents".

"We want a safe and healthy work environment for all our people and together, we work relentlessly every day to achieve that," he said.

"How the sheeting became part of the recycled material, and where it came from is something we are working to determine."


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