Last year Paekakariki resident Jade Darbyshire would watch his four-year-ancient daughter make mud pies in the backyard of his rented home.
Now he worries that dirt was contaminated with asbestos and his landlords have left him in the lurch, brushing off his worries.
Darbyshire went into the Ames St property in July 2016 and it wasn’t long before he became concerned about asbestos in ancient building materials scattered around the backyard.
“There were three property lots on the same property and the tenants got together and had a pow-wow about the backyard.”
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One of the tenants approached the landlords, Wayne and Adaleen Irion, with their concerns but Darbyshire said they were brushed off.
“They told us it was fibrolite and absolutely harmless.”
Fibrolite, sometimes known as asbestos cement, is material with asbestos fibres woven in. According to the WorkSafe website, when asbestos is intact and covered it is harmless but once the material it’s in is broken up, the fibres can be released into the air.
Darbyshire, who is now is the process of moving out, said a previous tenant had broken up contaminated concrete sheeting in the backyard with a sledgehammer.
He contacted the Kapiti Coast District Council and also arranged for an independent test in August to determine whether it posed any danger to himself or his four-year-ancient daughter.
He believed his family wasn’t the only one affected. “It’s been making people sick for years.”
He had been in contact with past tenants and believed one of them had respiratory problems after living in the flat.
Environmental standards manager Jacquie Muir said council staff had found an amount of broken cement sheeting in the rear and front of the site.
“A lab test confirmed that the sheeting material contained amosite and chrysotile asbestos,” she said.
After visiting the site several times in July, council staff referred the case to WorkSafe.
WorkSafe investigators found the sheeting had been on the property for some time, calling it “historical”, Muir said.
Landlord Adaleen Irion said the first they knew their property was contaminated with asbestos was when the Kapiti Coast District Council got in touch earlier this year.
“I was in absolute shock,” she said.
Irion said they followed the advice given by the WorkSafe and immediately hired an asbestos removal company to deal with the fibrolite material on the property.
“To the best of our knowledge, all the fibrolite is gone.”
In the 23 years they had owned the property she said they had never had any complaints or concerns.
The Ames St property backed onto KiwiRail land and she believed the contaminated sheeting had originally been buried on the company’s land.
A previous tenant kept chickens in the space two years ago and Irion said the birds had likely scratched up the dirt over the material.
She and her husband Wayne had since gated off the area.
A spokeswoman from KiwiRail said the company was recently made aware of the situation and was looking into it.
“At this stage the exact location of the fence in relation to the boundary line of the property is unknown and because of that it would be premature for KiwiRail to comment.”
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