17 October 2017

Asbestos-riddled school buildings to be razed in modernisation program

| Ian Bushnell
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school signFive ageing ACT Government school buildings contaminated with asbestos are to be demolished as part of a modernisation program.

The Education Directorate said the presence of friable asbestos in the double-storey buildings at Campbell Primary and Narrabundah College meant they could not be upgraded.

The directorate said the buildings had come to the end of their lives and the walls were cracking. The Campbell buildings are more than 50 years old while the Narrabundah ones are more then 60 years old.

Block B and Annex at Campbell Primary and Blocks B, C and D at Narrabundah College will be demolished and classes moved to new transportable classrooms.

This will offer the school communities the opportunity to be involved in the planning and design of learning spaces for the future, the directorate said.

The asbestos will be removed internally before demolition, and the soil tested when the work is complete.


A transportable classroom of the kind to be installed at the two schools.

The air-conditioned transportable buildings will be installed at Campbell this term, and at Narrabundah in Term 1 next year.

The directorate said Robson Environmental had been monitoring the buildings to ensure the ongoing safety of students and staff, and testing had confirmed that there was no asbestos in the air. Testing would continue until the demolition was complete.

Friable asbestos is a form of asbestos which can be crumbled or reduced to a dust by hand pressure when dry. It is not the asbestos found in Mr Fluffy homes.

“If you had a handful of friable crocidolite asbestos and rubbed it between your hands it would result in a similar dust cloud as if you had a handful of talcum powder and rubbed the talcum powder between your hands. Both would generate high levels of respirable dust,” the directorate said.

“Therefore friable asbestos can, when not dealt with appropriately, represent an exposure hazard.

“If however it is inaccessible and well-sealed, it can’t be disturbed during normal building use and therefore doesn’t present an exposure risk.”

The directorate said the location of the transportable buildings would be determined by expert advice to ensure appropriate access to services and the school communities updated about the timeframe for demolition works.

The works are being funded through the Better Schools for our Kids program, with $1.2 million committed to the program at Narrabundah College and Campbell Primary School.

For more information go here.

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