4 Feb 2010

Niue's acting Premier says lack of funding delaying asbestos removal

1:09 pm on 4 February 2010

The acting Premier of Niue says a lack of funds is the main obstacle to removing unwanted asbestos.

After devastating cyclones in 1959 and 1960, most of the island's housing was built with asbestos roofing, much of which was damaged during Cyclone Heta in 2004.

The Opposition MP, Terry Coe, says it seems the government is afraid to make a decision on how to deal with the material, which carries the risk of lung cancer.

Two years ago New Zealand ruled out additional assistance to Niue for asbestos disposal but O'Love Jacobsen says she intends to ask for more funding in the coming weeks.

"I'm going out to Vanuatu at the end of this week and hopefully when I come back from there I'll entertain that because it has been on our books all the time and it's raised in the house all the time and it is something that we need to sort of get on very quickly with it."

O'Love Jacobsen says dumping the asbestos at sea poses environmental risks and she'd prefer to return it to New Zealand.