16 Mar 2017

Parents angry at school proposal to remove asbestos during school time

From Checkpoint, 5:18 pm on 16 March 2017

Parents at a west Auckland school are vowing to keep their children at home if the planned removal of asbestos during school hours goes ahead.

Contractors discovered old piping containing asbestos behind Hobsonville Primary School during development of a new pick-up and drop-off area in November last year.

The school wants to remove it as soon as possible, as does the Ministry of Education. The ministry said tests showed the asbestos was non-friable, meaning it was unlikely to crumble and therefore unlikely to become airborne.

However, a group of parents want work postponed until the Christmas holidays when no children are around.

Natalie Marsh removed her children from school yesterday when preparation works started.

"Because of the lack of communication and misinformation, there's a lot of uncertainty about what's actually going on so I'd rather be safe than sorry," Ms Marsh said.

School board of trustees chair Lance Norman said experts the school and ministry had consulted recommended removing the asbestos as soon as possible.

"It's actually dug up so there's a big mound of dirt containing asbestos in it. It's covered, it's fenced off, but it's not actually below the ground," Mr Norman said.

"It can be easily accessed by anyone that jumps the fence, so leaving it until December, there's no way that will occur to be honest.

"Four hundred families at our school, including myself, would be in uproar."

The school said a compromise could be reached with a closer holiday.

In the meantime, work could start as soon as Monday.