Sydney Opera House found to have asbestos in wiring, 25 workers exposed – ABC Online


An aerial view of the opera house

A work ban has been imposed on renovation work at the Sydney Opera House after asbestos was found in the wiring.

The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) said 25 workers involved in the $200 million renovation had been exposed to the fibres while working in a service duct.

The union said it took too long for workers to be told about the discovery.

“Our ETU members have been exposed to deadly asbestos,” the ETU’s Justin Page said.

“The contractor Downer failed to say our members for approximately five days that asbestos had been detected and confirmed at that site.

“Our members raised the issue of [the] possible presence of asbestos last Monday.”

Mr Page said it was disappointing plans for the renovations did not factor in possible asbestos sites.

Justin Page

“One would expect with the age of the Opera House that asbestos would have been present. What we can’t know is why the risk assessment did not pick it up and they failed to place adequate safety controls in place,” he said.

Opposition arts spokesman Walt Secord has called on Arts Minister Don Harwin to order a full risk assessment.

Mr Secord demanded that the Berejiklian Government “come clean” on when they first learned of asbestos.

“A single asbestos fibre can cause deadly cancer,” he said.

“No worker or member of the public should be exposed to deadly asbestos and work should not commence until it is 100 per cent safe to do so.”

SafeWork NSW is now investigating the matter and will assess all the circumstances.

Both the Sydney Opera House and the contractor Downer have been contacted by the ABC for comment.

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