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Victoria Square work unearths asbestos

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Contractors have found a “significant” amount of asbestos in Victoria Square – but the Adelaide City Council insists it won’t delay the project or blowout the budget.

The asbestos was found after workers dug into and cracked a previously undiscovered asbestos pipe buried half a metre under the soil last Thursday. It is the second asbestos find on the site since work started in May.

The council says it was expecting to find asbestos on the site during the upgrade works, although this particular pipe was a surprise find.

Carters Asbestos Management was called in late yesterday to oversee the removal of the material.

Company director John Carter told InDaily the asbestos didn’t pose a risk to human health.

“These sort of things are non-friable asbestos,” he said. “Although they broke it, it was within the work area. We’ve had these situations where we air-monitor them, and you never get a high reading.”

The asbestos pipe was carrying active cables. The pipe would be removed and replaced with a plastic conduit.

Carter told InDaily he wasn’t expecting the removal to be difficult.

“These guys are ready for these sort of things. They’ve got a removalist on site. When they find something they get them straight in to tend to it.”

With the amount of asbestos used in construction before it was phased out in the 1980s, Carter said it was usual to find some of the material in large work sites.

“With that sort of site, whilst we try and identify the amount, it never works out that way. There’s no real good drawings showing where it all is.

“You can expect the unforeseen. Any sites have got a little bit of debris in it. It’s normal for us to come across bits and pieces.

“But in this case it was pipework. Whilst we do our best to identify all the services it just never works.”

In an emailed statement, a council spokesperson told InDaily the asbestos find wouldn’t impact the project’s timetable.

“The contractor has found and removed a significant quantity of old asbestos conduits and pipes from across the Square: ie within the northern end and within the roadway. No material other than what was expected has been found.

“The likelihood of finding asbestos was factored into the planning of the project and procurement of a contractor to undertake the works. The costs for the asbestos removal have been borne by the contractor and are ultimately covered by the project budget.

“ACC still expects the completion of the Stage 1 redevelopment works in the central road way and northern end by the end of the year and the completion of the Three Rivers Fountain between February and April next year.”

The spokesperson said there was a possibility of finding more asbestos in the yet-to-be-excavated areas of Victoria Square.

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